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THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 



Other books by 
P. G. WODEHOUSE 
uniform with this edition 

BAHMY IN WONDERLAND 
BLANDINGS CASTLE 
CARRY ON, JEEVES 
THE CLICKING OF CUTHBERT 
A DAMSEL IN DISTRESS 
THE GIRL ON THE BOAT 
THE HEART OF A GOOF 
HEAVY WEATHER 
HOT WATER 
IF I WERE YOU 
THE INIMITABLE JEEVES 
JEEVES AND THE FEUDAL SPIRIT 
JILL THE RECKLESS 
LEAVE IT TO PSMITH 
LAUGHING GAS 

LORD EMSWORTH AND OTHERS 
THE LUCK OF THE BODKINS 
MEET MR. MUXXINER 
MR. MULLINER SPEAKING 
MONEY FOR NOTHING 
QUICK SERVICE 
RIGHT HO, JEEVES 
SUMMER MOONSHINE 
THANK YOU, JEEVES 
UKRIDGE 

VERY GOOD, JEEVES 
YOUNG MEN IN SPATS 



d. cSubdz M A. 




The Code of the Woosters 




HERBERT JENKINS 
LONDON 



First Published by 
Herbert Jenhins Limitedy 
3 Duke of York Streety 
Londorty 
1938 

First published in the 
Autograph Edition 
1962 


Printed in Great Britain by 

John Gardner {Printers) Ltd,y Litherlandy Uvcrpooly 20 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 




I REACHED out a hand from under the blankets, and rang the 
bell for Jeeves. 

“Good evening, Jeeves.” 

“Good morning, sir.” 

This surprised me. 

“Is it mor nin g ?” 

“Yes, sir.” 

“Are you sure ? It seems very dark outside.” 

“There is a fog, sir. If you will recollect, we are now in Autumn 
— season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.” 

“Season of what ?” 

“Mists, sir, and mellow fruitfulness.” 

“Oh ? Yes. Yes, I see. Well, be that as it may, get me one of 
those bracers of yours, will you?” 

“I have one in readiness, sir, in the ice box.” 

He shimmered out, and I sat up in bed with that rather 
unpleasant feeling you get sometimes that you’re going to die in 
about five minutes. On the previous night, I had given a little 
dinner at the Drones to Gussie Fink-Nottle as a friendly send-off 
before his approaching nuptials with Madeline, only daughter of 
Sir Watkyn Bassett, C.B.E., and these things take their toll. 
Indeed, just before Jeeves came in, I had been dreaming that 
some boimder was driving spikes through my head — ^not just 
ordinary spikes, as used by Jael the wife of Heber, but red-hot 
ones. 

He returned with the tissue-restorer. I loosed it down the 
hatch, and after undergoing the passing discomfort, imavoidable 
when you drink Jeeves’s patent morning revivers, of having the 
top of the skull fly up to the ceiling and die eyes shoot out of their 
sockets and rebotmd from the opposite wall like racquet balls, 
felt better. It would have been overstating it to say that even now 
Bertram was back again in mid-season form, but I had at least 
slid into the convalescent class and was equal to a spot of con- 
versation. 



8 


THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


“Ha!” I said^ retrieving the eyeballs and replacing them in 
position. “Well, Jeeves, what goes on in the great world ? Is that 
the paper you have there ?” 

“No, sir. It is some literature from the Travel Bureau. I thought 
that you might care to glance at it.” 

“Oh?” I said. “You did, did you?” 

And there was a brief and — ^if that’s the word I want — ^pregnant 
silence. 

I suppose that when two men of iron will live in close association 
with one another, there are boimd to be occasional clashes, and 
one of these had recently popped up in the Wooster home. Jeeves 
was trying to get me to go on a Round-The-World cruise, and I 
would have none of it. But in spite of my firm statements to this 
effect, scarcely a day passed without him bringing me a sheaf or 
nosegay of those illustrated folders which the Ho-for-the-open- 
spaces birds send out in the hope of drumming up custom. His 
whole attitude recalled irresistibly to the mind that of some 
assiduous hound who will persist in laying a dead rat on the 
drawing-room carpet, though repeatedly apprised by word and 
gesture that the market for same is sluggish or even non-existent. 

“Jeeves,” I said, “this nuisance must now cease.” 

“Travel is highly educational, sir.” 

“I can’t do with any more education. I was full up years ago. 
No, Jeeves, I know what’s the matter with you. That old Viking 
strain of yours has come out again. You yearn for the tang of the 
salt breezes. You see yourself walking the deck in a yachting cap. 
Possibly someone has been telling you about the Dancing Girls of 
Bali. I understand, and I sympathize. But not for me. I refuse to 
be decanted into any blasted ocean-going liner and lugged off 
round the world.” 

“Very good, sir.” 

He spoke with a certain what-is-it in his voice, and I could see 
that, if not actually disgruntled, he was far from being gruntled, 
so I tactfully changed the subject. 

“Well, Jeeves, it was quite a satisfactory binge last night.” 

“Indeed, sir ?” 

“Oh, most. An excellent time was had by all. Gussie sent his 
regards.” 

“I appreciate the kind thought, sir. I trust Mr. Fink-Nottlc 
was in good spirits ?” 

“Extraordinarily good, considering that the sands are running 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 9 

out and that he will shortly have Sir Watkyn Bassett for a father- 
in-law. Sooner him than me^ Jeeves, sooner him than me/’ 

I spoke with strong feeling, and I’ll tell you why. A few months 
before, while celebrating Boat Race night, I had fallen into the 
clutches of the Law for trying to separate a policeman from his 
helmet, and after sleeping fitfully on a plank bed had been hauled 
up at Bosher Street next morning and fined five of the best. The 
magistrate who had inflicted this monstrous sentence—to the 
accompaniment, I may add, of some very oifensive remarks from 
the bench — ^was none other than old Pop Bassett, father of 
Gussie’s bride-to-be. 

As it turned out, I was one of his last customers, for a couple 
of weeks later he inherited a pot of money from a distant relative 
and retired to the country. That, at least, was the story that had 
been put about. My own view was that he had got the stuff by 
sticking like glue to the fines. Five quid here, five quid there — ^you 
can see how it would mount up over a period of years. 

“You have not forgotten that man of wrath, Jeeves ? A hard 
case, eh?” 

“Possibly Sir Watkyn is less formidable in private life, sir.” 

“I doubt it. Slice him where you like, a hellhound is always a 
hellhound. But enough of this Bassett. Any letters to-day ?” 

“No, sir.” 

“Telephone communications ?” 

“One, sir. From Mrs. Travers.” 

“Aunt Dahlia ? She’s back in town, then ?” 

“Yes, sir. She expressed a desire that you would ring her up 
at your earliest convenience.” 

“I will do even better,” I said cordially. “I will call in person.” 

And half an hour later I was toddling up the steps of her 
residence and being admitted by old Seppings, her butler. Little 
knowing, as I crossed that threshold, that in about two shakes of 
a duck’s tail I was to become involved in an imbroglio that would 
test the Wooster soul as it had seldom been tested before. I allude 
to the sinister affair of Gussie Fink-Nottle, Madeline Bassett, old 
Pop Bassett, Stiffy Byng, the Rev. H. P. (“Stinker”) Pinker, the 
eighteenth-century cow-creamer and the small brown leather- 
covered notebook. 

No premonition of an impending doom, however, cast a cloud 
on my serenity as I buzzed in. I was looking forward with bright 



10 THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 

anticipation to the coining reunion with this Dahlia — she, as I 
may have mentioned before, being my good and deserving aunt, 
not to be confused with Aunt Agatha, who eats broken bottles and 
wears barbed wire next the skin. Apart from the mere intellectual 
pleasure of chewing the fat with her, there was the glittering 
prospect that I might be able to cadge an invitation to limch. And 
owing to the outstanding virtuosity of Anatole, her French cook, 
the browsing at her trough is always of a nature to lure the 
gourmet. 

The door of the morning-room was open as I went through the 
Ealij and I caught a glimpse of Uncle Tom messing about with 
his collection of old silver. For a moment I toyed with the idea of 
pausing to pip-pip and inquire after his indigestion, a malady to 
which he is extremely subject, but wiser coxmsels prevailed. This 
uncle is a bird who, sighting a nephew, is apt to buttonhole him 
and become a bit informative on the subject of sconces and 
foliation, not to mention scrolls, ribbon wreaths in high relief and 
gadroon borders, and it seemed to me that silence was best. I 
whizzed by, accordingly, with sealed lips, and headed for the 
library, where I had been informed that Aunt Dahlia was at the 
moment roosting. 

I found the old fiesh-and-blood up to her Marcelwave in proof 
sheets. As all the world knows, she is the courteous and popular 
proprietress of a weekly sheet for the delicately nurtured entitled 
Milady’s Boudoir. I once contributed an article to it on “What 
The Well-Dressed Man Is Wearing”. 

My entry caused her to come to the surface, and she greeted 
me with one of those cheery view-halloos which, in the days when 
she went in for hunting, used to make her so noticeable a figure of 
the Quom, the Pytchley and other organizations for doing the 
British fox a bit of no good. 

“Hullo, ugly,” she said. “What brings you here?” 

“I understood, aged relative, that you wished to confer with 

1UC« 

“I didn’t want you to come barging in, interrupting my work. 
A few words on the telephone would have met the case. But I 
suppose some instinct told you that this was my busy day.” 

“If you were wondering if I could come to lunch, have no 
anxiety. I shall be delighted, as always. What will Anatole be 
giving us?” 

“He won’t be giving you anything, my gay young tapeworm. I 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 11 

am entertaining Pomona Grindle, the novelist^ to the midday 
meal.” 

“I should be charmed to meet her.” 

“Well, you’re not going to. It is to be a strictly tSte-a-tite 
affair. I’m trying to get a serial out of her for the Boudoir. No, all 
I wanted was to tell you to go to an antique shop in the Bromp- 
ton Road — ^it’s just past the Oratory — ^you can’t miss it — ^and sne er 
at a cow-creamer.” 

I did not get her drift. The impression I received was that of an 
aunt talking through the back of her neck. 

“Do what to a what ?” 

“They’ve got an eighteenth-century cow-creamer there that 
Tom’s going to buy this afternoon.” 

The scales fell from my eyes. 

“Oh, it’s a silver what-not, is it?” 

“Yes. A sort of cream-jug. Go there and ask them to show it to 
you, and when they do, register scorn.” 

“The idea being what?” 

“To sap their confidence, of course, chump. To sow doubts 
and misgivings in their mind and make them clip the price a bit. 
The cheaper he gets the thing, the better he will be pleased. And 
I want him to be in cheery mood, because if I succeed in signing 
the Grindle up for this serial, I shall be compelled to get into his 
ribs for a biggish sum of money. It’s sinful w^t these best-selling 
women novelists want for their stuff. So pop off there without 
delay and shake your head at the thing.” 

I am always anxious to oblige the right sort of aunt, but I was 
compelled to put in what Jeeves would have called a nolle prosequi. 
Those morning mixtures of his are practically magical in their 
effea, but even after partaking of them one does not oscillate the 
bean. 

“I can’t shake my head. Not to-day.” 

She gazed at me with a censorious waggle of the right eye- 
brow. 

“Oh, so that’s how it is ? WeU, if your loathsome excesses have 
left you incapable of headshaking, you can at least curl your 
Up.” 

“Oh, rather.” 

“Then carry on. And draw your breath m sharply. Also try 
cliddng the tongue. Oh, yes, and teU them you think it’s modern 
Dutch.” 



12 


THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


“Why?” 

“I don’t know. Apparently it’s something a cow-creamer ought 
not to be.” 

She paused, and allowed her eye to roam thou^tfuUy over my 
perhaps somewhat corpselike face. 

“So you were out on the tiles last night, were you, my little 
chickadee ? It’s an extraordinary thing — every time I see you, you 
appear to be recovering from some debauch. Don’t you ever stop 
drinking? How about when you’re asleep ?” 

I rebutted the slur. 

“You wrong me, relative. Except at times of special revelry, 
I am exceedingly moderate in my potations. A brace of cocktails, 
a glass of wine at dinn er and possibly a liqueur with the coffee — 
that is Bertram Wooster. But last night I gave a small bachelor 
binge for Gussie Fink-Nottle.” 

“You did, did you ?” She laughed — a bit louder than I could 
have wished in my frail state of health, but then she is always a 
woman who tends to bring plaster falling from the ceiling when 
amused. “Spink-Bottle, eh? Bless his heart! How was the old 
newt-fancier ?” 

“Pretty roguish.” 

“Did he make a speech at this orgy of yours ?” 

“Yes. I was astounded. I was all prepared for a blushing 
refusal. But no. We drank his health, and he rose to his feet as 
cool as some cucumbers, as Anatole would say, and held us 
spellbound.” 

“Ti^t as an owl, I suppose?” 

“On the contrary. Offensively sober.” 

“Well, that’s a nice change.” 

We fell into a thoughtful silence. We were musing on the 
summer afternoon down at her place in Worcestershire when 
Gussie, circ u mstances having so ordered themselves as to render 
him full to the back teeth with the right stuff, had addressed the 
young scholars of Market Snodsbury Grammar School on the 
occasion of their annual prizegiving. 

A thing I never know, when I’m starting out to tell a story about 
a chap I’ve told a story about before, is how much explanation to 
bung in at the outset. It’s a problem you’ve got to look at from 
every angle. I mean to say, in the present case, if I take it for 
granted that my public knows aU about Gussie Fink-Nottle and 
just breeze ahead, those publicans who weren’t hanging on my 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 13 

lips the first time are apt to be fogged. Whereas, if before kicking 
off I give about eight volumes of the man’s life and history, other 
bimbos, who were so hanging will stifle yawns and murmur “Old 
stuff. Get on with it.” 

I suppose the only thing to do is to put the salient facts as 
briefly as possible in the possession of the first gang, waving an 
apologetic hand at the second gang the while, to indicate that they 
had better let their attention wander for a minute or two and that 
I will be with them shortly. 

This Gussie, then, was a fish-faced pal of mine who, on reaching 
man’s estate, had bmied himself in the country and devoted 
himself entirely to the study of newts, keeping the little chaps in a 
glass tank and observing their habits with a sedulous eye. A con- 
firmed recluse you would have called him, if you had happened 
to know the word, and you would have been right. By all the ruling 
of the form book, a less promising prospect for the whispering of 
tender words into shell-Hke ears and the subsequent purchase of 
platininn ring and licence for wedding it would have seemed 
impossible to discover in a month of Simdays. 

But Love will find a way. Meeting Madeline Bassett one day 
and falling for her like a ton of bricks, he had emerged from his 
retirement and started to woo, and after numerous vicissitudes 
had clicked and was slated at no distant date to don the spongebag 
trousers and gardenia for buttonhole and walk up the aisle with 
the ghastly girl. 

I call her a ghastly girl because she was a ghastly girl. The 
Woosters are chivalrous, but they can speak their minds. A 
droopy, soupy, sentimental exhibit, with melting eyes and a 
cooing voice and the most extraordinary views on such things as 
stars and rabbits. I remember her telling me once that rabbits 
were gnomes in attendance on the Fairy Queen and that the stars 
were God’s daisy chain. Perfect rot, of course. They’re nothing of 
the sort. 

Aunt Dahlia emitted a low, rumbling chuckle, for that speech 
of Gussie’s down at Alarket Snodsbury has always been one of her 
happiest memories. 

“Good old Spink-Bottle! Where is he now?” 

“Staying at die Bassett’s father’s place — Totleigh Towers, 
Totleigh-in-the-Wold, Glos. He went back there this morning. 
They’re having the wedding at the local church.” 

“Are you going to it ?” 



14 


THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


“Definitely no.” „ , . . 

“No, I suppose it would be too painful for you. You being in 

love with the girl.” 

I stared. 

“In love ? With a female who thinks that every time a fairy 
blows its wee nose a baby is bom ?” 

“Well, you were certainly engaged to her once.” 

“For about five minutes, yes, and through no fault of my own. 
My dear old relative,” I said, nettled, “you are perfectly well 
aware of the inside facts of that frightful affair.” 

I winced. It was an incident in my career on which I did not 
care to dwell. Briefly, what had occurred was this. His nerve 
sapped by long association with newts, Gussie had shrunk from 
pl<»Qrling his cause with Madeline Bassett, and had asked me to 
plead it for him. And when I did so, the fatheaded girl thought I 
was pleading mine. With the result that when, after that ex- 
hibition of his at the prizegiving, she handed Gussie the temporary 
mitten, she had attached herself to me, and I had had no option 
but to take the rap. I mean to say, if a girl has got it into her nut 
that a fellow loves her, and comes and tells him that she is re- 
turning her fiance to store and is now prepared to sign up with 
him, what can a chap do ? 

Mercifully, things had been straightened out at the eleventh 
hour by a reconciliation between the two pills, but the thought of 
my peril was one at which I stiU shuddered. I wasn’t going to 
feel really easy in my mind till the parson had said: “Wilt thou, 
Augustus ?” and Gussie had whispered a shy “Yes.” 

“Well, if it is of any interest to you,” said Aunt Dahlia, “I am 
not proposing to attend that wedding myself. I disapprove of 
Sir Watkyn Bassett, and don’t think he ought to be encouraged. 
There’s one of the boys, if you want one!” 

“You know the old crumb, then?” I said, rather surprised, 
though of course it bore out what I often say — ^viz. that it’s a 
small world. 

“Yes, I know him. He’s a friend of Tom’s. They both collect 
old silver and snarl at one another like wolves about it all the 
time. We had him staying at Brinkley last month. And would 
you care to hear how he repaid me for all the loving care I 
lavished on him while he was my guest ? Sneaked round behind 
my back and tried to steal Anatole!” 

“No!” 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 15 

“That's what he did. Fortunately, Anatole proved staunch — 
after I had doubled his wages.” 

“Double them again,” I said earnestly. “Keep on doubling 
them. Pour out money like water rather than lose that superb 
master of the roasts and hashes.” 

I was visibly affected. The thought of Anatole, that peerless 
disher-up, coming within an ace of ceasing to operate at Brinkley 
Court, where I could always enjoy his output by inviting myself 
for a visit, and going off to serve under old Bassett, the last 
person in tihe world likely to set out a knife and fork for Bertram, 
had stirred me profoundly. 

“Yes,” said Aunt Dahlia, her eye smouldering as she brooded 
on the frightful thing, “that's the sort of hornswoggling high- 
binder Sir Watkyn Bassett is. You had better warn Spink-Bottle 
to watch out on the wedding day. The slightest relaxation of 
vigilance, and the old thug will probably get away with his tie-pin 
in the vestry. And now,” she said, reaching out for what had the 
appearance of being a thoughtful essay on the care of the baby in 
sickness and in health, “push off. I've got about six tons of 
proofs to correct. Oh, and give this to Jeeves, when you see him. 
It’s the ‘Husbands’ Corner’ article. It’s full of deep stuff about 
braid on the side of men’s dress trousers, and I'd like him to vet it. 
For all I know, it may be Red propaganda. And I can rely on you 
not to bungle that job ? Tell me in your own words what it is you’re 
supposed to do.” 

“Go to antique shop ” 

“ — ^in the Brompton Road ” 

“ — ^in, as you say, the Brompton Road. Ask to see cow- 
creamer ” 

“ — and sneer. Right. Buzz along. The door is behind you.” 

It was with a light heart that I went out into the street and hailed 
a passing barouche. Many men, no doubt, might have been a bit 
sick at having their morning cut into in this fashion, but I was 
conscious only of pleasure at the thought that I had it in my 
power to perform this little act of kindness. Scratch Bertram 
Wooster, I often say, and you find a Boy Scout. 

The antique shop in the Brompton Road proved, as foreshad- 
owed, to be an antique shop in the Brompton Road and, like all 
antique shops except the swanky ones in the Bond Street neigh- 
bourhood, dingy outside and dark and smelly within. I don’t 



16 


THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


know why it is, but the proprietors of these establishments always 
seem to be cooking some sort of stew in the back room. 

“I say,” I began, entering; then paused as I perceived that the 
bloke in’charge was attending to two other customers. 

“Oh, sorry,” I was about to add, to convey the idea that I 
had homed in inadvertently, when the words froze on my 

^^Quite a slab of misty fruitfulness had drifted into the emporium, 
obscuring the view, but in spite of the poor light I was able to 
note that the smaller and elder of these two customers was no 

stranger to me. tt- ir- -vt 

It was old Pop Bassett m person. Himself. Not a picture. 


There is a tough, bulldog strain in the Woosters which has 
often caused comment. It came out in me now. A weaker man, no 
doubt, would have tiptoed from the scene and headed for the 
horizon, but I stood firm. After all, I felt, tlie dead past was the 
past. By forking out that fiver, I had paid my debt to 
Society and had nothing to fear from this shrimp-faced little 
son of a what-not. So I remained where I was, giving him the 
surreptitious once-over. 

My entry had caused him to turn and shoot a quick look at me, 
and at intervals since then he had been peering at me sideways. It 
was only a question of time, I felt, before the hidden chord in his 
memory would be touched and he would realize that the slight, 
distinguished-looking figure leaning on its umbrella in the back- 
ground was an old acquaintance. And now it was plain that he 
was hep. The bird in charge of the shop had pottered off into an 
I'nnffr room, and he came across to where I stood, giving me the 
up-and-down through his wind-shields. 

“Hullo, hullo,” he said. “I know you, young man. I never 
forget a face. You came up before me once.” 

I bowed slightly. 

“But not twice. Good! Learned your lesson, eh ? Going straight 
now? Capital. Now, let me see, what was it? Don’t teU me. It’s 
coming ba^. Of course, yes. Bag-snatching.” 

“No, no. It was ” 

“Bag-snatching,” he repeated firmly. “I remember it distinaly. 
Still, it’s aU past and done with now, eh ? We have turned over a 
new leaf, have we not ? Splendid. Roderick, come over here. This 
is most interesting.” 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 17 

His buddy, who had been examining a salver, put it down and 
joined the party. 

He was, as I had already been able to perceive, a breath-taking 
cove. About seven feet in height, and swathed in a plaid ulster 
which made him look about six feet across, he caught the eye and 
arrested it. It was as if Nature had intended to make a gorilk, and 
had changed its mind at the last moment. 

But it wasn’t merely the sheer expanse of the bird that im- 
pressed. Close to, what you noticed more was his face, which was 
square and powerful and slightly moustached towards the centre. 
His gaze was keen and piercing. I don’t know if you have ever 
seen those pictures in the papers of Dictators with tilted chins 
and blazing eyes, inflaming the populace with fiery words on the 
occasion of the opening of a new skittle alle}^, but that was what he 
reminded me of. 

“Roderick,” said old Bassett, “I want you to meet this fellow. 
Here is a case which illustrates exactly what I have so often 
maintained — ^that prison life does not degrade, that it does not 
warp the character and prevent a man rising on stepping-stones 
of his dead self to higher things.” 

I recognized the gag — one of Jeeves’s — and wondered where 
he could have heard it. 

“Look at this chap. I gave him three months not long ago for 
snatching bags at railway stations, and it is quite evident that his 
term in jail has had the most excellent effect on him. He has 
reformed.” 

“Oh, yes ?” said the Dictator. 

Granted that it wasn’t quite “Oh, yeah ?” I still didn’t like the 
way he spoke. He was looking at me with a nasty sort of super- 
cilious expression. I remember thinking that he would have 
been the ideal man to sneer at a cow-creamer. 

“What makes you think he has reformed?” 

“Of course he has reformed. Look at him. Well-groomed, weU- 
dressed, a decent member of Society. What his present walk 
in life is, I do not know, but it is perfectly obvious that he 
is no longer stealing bags. "What are you doing now, young 
man ?” 

“Stealing umbrellas, apparently,” said the Dictator. “I notice 
he’s got yours.” 

And I was on the point of denying the accusation hotly — I had, 
indeed, already opened my lips to do so — when there suddenly 



18 THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 

Struck me like a blow on the upper maxillary from a sock stuffed 
with wet sand the realization that there was a lot in it. 

I mpan to say, I remembered now tlrat I had come out without 
my umbrella, and yet here I was, beyond any question of doubt, 
umbrellaed to the gills. What had caused me to take up the one 
that had been leaning against a seventeenth-century chair, I 
cannot say, unless it was the primeval instinct which makes a 
mgn without an umbrella reach out for the nearest one in sight, 
like a flower groping toward the sim. 

A manly apology seemed in order. I made it as the blunt 
instrument changed hands. 

“I say. I’m most frightfully sorry.” 

Old Bassett said he was, too — ^sorry and disappointed. He said 
it was this sort of thing that made a man sick at heart. 

The Dictator had to shove his oar in. He asked if he should call 
a policeman, and old Bassett’s eyes gleamed for a moment. 
Being a magistrate makes you love the idea of calling policemen. 
It’s like a tiger tasting blood. But he shook his head. 

“No, Roderick. I couldn’t. Not to-day — ^the happiest day of 
my life.” 

The Dictator pursed his lips, as if feeling that the better the 
day, the better the deed. 

“But listen,” I bleated, “it was a mistake.” 

“Ha!” said the Dictator. 

“I thought that umbrella was mine.” 

“That,” said old Bassett, “is the fundamental trouble with you, 
my man. You are totally unable to distinguish between meum and 
tuum. Well, I am not going to have you arrested this time, but I 
advise you to be very careful. Come, Roderick.” 

They biffed off, the Dictator pausing at the door to give me 
another look and say “Hal” again. 

A most unnerving experience all this had been for a man of 
sensibility, as you may well imagine, and my immediate reaction 
was a disposition to give Aunt Dahlia’s commission the miss-in- 
balk and return to the flat and get outside another of Jeeves’s 
pick-me-ups. You know how harts pant for cooling streams when 
heated in the chase. Very much that sort of thing. I realized now 
what madness it had been to go out into the streets of London with 
only one of them under my belt, and I was on the point of melting 
away and going back to the fountain head, when the proprietor of 
the shop emerged from the inner room, accompanied by a rich 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


19 


smell of stew and a sandy cat;, and inquired what he could do for 
me. And so, the subject having come up, I said that I understood 
that he had an eighteenth-century cow-creamer for sale. 

He shook his head. He was a rather mildewed bird of gloomy 
aspect, almost entirely concealed behind a cascade of white 
whiskers. 

‘'You're too late. It's promised to a customer." 

“Name of Travers ?” 

“Ah." 

“Then that’s all right. Learn, O thou of unshuffled features 
and agreeable disposition,” I said, for one likes to be civil, “that 
the above Travers is my uncle. He sent me here to have a look at 
the thing. So dig it out, will you ? I expect it’s rotten." 

“It’s a beautiful cow-creamer." 

“Ha!” I said, borrowing a bit of the Dictator’s stuff. “That's 
what you think. We shall see." 

I don’t mind confessing that I’m not much of a lad for old 
silver, and though I have never pained him by actually telling 
him so, I have always felt that IJncle Tom’s fondness for it is 
evidence of a goofiness which he would do well to watch and 
check before it spreads. So I wasn’t expecting the heart to leap 
up to any great extent at the sight of this exhibit. But when the 
whiskered ancient pottered off into the shadows and came back 
with the thing, I scarcely knew whether to laugh or weep. The 
thought of an uncle paying hard cash for such an object got right 
in amongst me. 

It was a silver cow. But when I say “cow", don’t go running 
away with the idea of some decent, self-respecting cudster such 
as you may observe loading grass into itself in the nearest meadow. 
This was a sinister, leering. Underworld sort of animal, the kind 
that would spit out of the side of its mouth for twopence. It was 
about four inches high and six long. Its back opened on a hinge. 
Its tail was arched, so that the tip touched the spine — ^thus, I 
suppose, affording a handle for the cream-lover to grasp. The 
sight of it seemed to take me into a different and a dreadful world. 

It was, consequently, an easy task for me to carry out the 
programme indicated by Aunt Dahlia. I curled the lip and clicked 
the tongue, all in one movement. I also drew in the breath 
sharply. The whole effect was that of a man absolutely out of 
sympathy with this cow-creamer, and I saw the mildewed cove 
start, as if he had been wounded in a tender spot. 



20 THE COPE OF THE WOOSTERS 

“Oh, tut, tut, tut!” I said. “Oh, dear, dear, dear! Oh, no, no, 
no, no, no ! I don’t think much of this,” I said, curling and clicking 
freely. “All -wrong.” 

“All wrong ?” 

“All wrong. Modern Dutch.” 

“Modem Dutch ?” He may have frothed at the mouth, or he 
may not. I Couldn’t be sure. But the agony of spirit was obviously 
intense. “What do you mean. Modern Dutch ? It’s eighteenth- 
century Enghsh. Look at the hall-mark ?” 

“I can’t see any hall-mark.” 

“Are you blind ? Here, take it outside in the street. It’s lighter 
there.” 

“Right ho,” I said, and started for the door, sauntering at first 
in a languid sort of way, like a connoisseur a bit bored at having 
his time wasted. 

I say “at first,” because I had only taken a couple of steps when 
I tripped over the cat, and you can’t combine tripping over cats 
•with languid sauntering. Shifting abruptly into high, I shot out of 
the door like someone wanted by the police making for the car 
after a smash-and-grab raid. The cow-creamer flew from my 
hands, and it was a lucky thing that I happened to barge into a 
fellow citizen outside, or I should have taken a toss in the gutter. 

WeU, not absolutely lucky, as a matter of fact, for it turned out 
to be Sir Watkyn Bassett. He stood tliere goggling at me with 
horror and indignation behind the pince-nez, and you could 
almost see him totting up the score on his fingers. First, bag- 
snatching, I mean to say; then umbrella-pinching; and now this. 
His whole demeanour -was that of a man confronted wdth tlie last 
straw. 

“Call a policeman, Roderick!” he cried, skipping like the high 
hills. 

The Dictator sprang to the task. 

“Police!” he bawled. 

“Police!” yipped old Bassett, up in the tenor clef. 

“Police!” roared the Dictator, taking the bass. 

And a moment later something large loomed up in the fog and 
said: “What’s all this ?” 

Well, I dare say I could have explained everything, if I had 
stuck around and gone into it, but I didn’t want to stick around 
and go into it. Side-stepping nimbly, I picked up the feet and 
was gone like the wind. A voice shouted “Stop!” but of course I 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


21 


didn’t. Stop, I mean to say! Of all the damn silly ideas. I legged 
it down byways and along side streets, and eventually fetched up 
somewhere in the neighbourhood of Sloane Square. There I got 
aboard a cab and started back to civilization. 

My original intention was to drive to the Drones and get a bite 
of lunch there, but I hadn’t gone far when I realized that I wasn’t 
equal to it. I yield to no man in my appreciation of the Drones 
Club ... its sparkling conversation, its camaraderie, its atmo- 
sphere redolent of all that is best and brightest in the metro- 
polis . . . but there would, I knew, be a goodish bit of bread 
thrown hither and thither at its luncheon table, and I was in no 
vein to cope with flying bread. Changing my strategy in a flash, 
I told the man to tsOke me to the nearest Turkish bath. 

It is always my practice to linger over a Turkish b., and it was 
consequently getting late by the time I returned to the flat. I had 
managed to put in two or three hours’ sleep in my cubicle, and 
that, taken in conjunction with the healing flow of persp. in the 
hot room and the plunge into the icy tank, had brought the roses 
back to my cheeks to no little extent. It was, indeed, practically 
with a merry Tra-la-la on my lips that I latchkeyed my way in 
and made for the sitting-room. 

And the next moment my fizziness was turned off at the main 
by the sight of a pile of telegrams on the table. 



I don’t know if you were among the gang that followed the 
narrative of my earlier adventures with Gussie Fink-Nottle — 
you may have been one of those who didn’t happen to get around 
to it — ^but if you were you will recall that the dirty work on that 
occasion started with a tidal wave of telegrams^ and you will not 
be surprised to learn that I found myself eyeing this mound of 
envelopes askance. Ever since then;, telegrams in any quantity 
have always seemed to me to spell trouble. 

I had had the idea at first glance that there were about twenty of 
the beastly things^ but a closer scrutiny revealed only three. They 
had all been dispatched from Totleigh-in-the-Wold;, and they all 
bore the same signature. 

They ran as follows : 

The first: 

Wooster;, 

Berkeley Mansions, 

Berkeley Square, 

London. 

Come immediately. Serious rift Madeline and self. Reply. 

Gussie. 

The second: 

Surprised receive no answer my telegram saying Come 
imme^ately serious rift Madeline and self. Reply. 

Gussie. 

And the third: 

I say, Bertie, why don’t you answer my telegrams ? Sent you 
two to-day saying Come immediately serious rift Madeline and 
self. Unless you come earliest possible moment prepared lend 
every effort effect reconciliation, wedding will be broken off. 
Reply. 

Gussie. 

I have said that that sojourn of mine in the T, bath had done 

22 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


23 


much to re-establish the mem sana in corpore what-not. Perusal of 
these frightful communications brought about an i nstant relapse. 
My misgivings, I saw, had been well founded. Something had 
whispered to me on seeing those bally envelopes that here we 
were again, and here we were. 

The sound of the familiar footstep had brought Jeeves floating 
out from the back premises. A glance was enough to tell him that 
all was not well vnth ye employer. 

“Are you ill, sir?” he inquired solicitously. 

I sank into a c. and passed an agitated h. over the b. 

“Not ill, Jeeves, but all of a twitter. Read these.” 

He ran his eye over the dossier, then transferred it to mine, and 
I could read in it the respectful anxiety he was feeling for the 
well-being of the young seigneur. 

“Most disturbing, sir.” 

His voice was grave. I could see that he hadn’t missed the gist. 
The sinister import of those telegrams was as clear to him as it 
was to me. 

We do not, of course, discuss the matter, for to do so would 
rather come under the head of speaking lightly of a woman’s 
name, but Jeeves is in full possession of the facts relating to the 
Bassett-Wooster mix-up and thoroughly cognizant of the peril 
which threatens me from that quarter. There was no need to 
explain to him why I now lighted a feverish cigarette and hitched 
the lower jaw up with a visible effort. 

“What do you suppose has happened, Jeeves ?” 

“It is difficult to hazard a conjecture, sir.” 

“The wedding may be scratched, he says. Why ? That is what 
I ask myself.” 

“Yes, sir.” 

“And I have no doubt that that is what you ask yourself?” 

“Yes, sir.” 

“Deep waters, Jeeves.” 

“Extremely deep, sir.” 

“The only thing we can say with any certainty is that in some 
way — ^how, we shall presumably learn later — Gussie has made an 
ass of himself again.” 

I mused on Augustus Fink-Nottle for a moment, recalling how 
he had always stood by himself in the chump class. The best 
judges had been saying it for years. Why, at our private school, 
where I had first met him, he had been known as “Fathead”, and 



24 


THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


was in competition with fellows like Bingo Little, Freddie 
Widgeon and myself. 

“What shall I do, Jeeves ?” 

“I think it would be best to proceed to Totleigh Towers, sir.” 

“But how can I ? Old Bassett would sling me out the moment I 
arrived.” 

“Possibly if you were to telegraph to Mr. Fink-Nottle, sir, 
explaining your difficulty, he might have some solution to 
suggest.” 

This seemed sound. I hastened out to the post office, and wired 
as follows: 

Fink-Notde, 

Totleigh Towers, 

Totleigh-in-the-Wold. 

Yes, that’s all very well. You say come here immediately, but 
how (hckens can I ? You don’t understand relations between Pop 
Bassett and self. These not such as to make him welcome visit 
Bertram. Would inevitably hurl out on ear and set dogs on. 
Useless suggest putting on false whiskers and pretending be 
feUow come inspect drains, as old blighter familiar with features 
and would instantly detect imposture. What is to be done ? What 
has happened ? Why serious rrft ? What serious rift ? How do you 
mean wedding broken off? Why dickens ? What have you been 
doing to the girl ? Reply. 

Bertie. 

The answer to this came during dinner: 

Wooster, 

Berkeley Mansions, 

Berkeley Square, 

London. 

See difficulty, but think can work it. In spite strained relations, 
still speaking terms Madeline. Am telHng her have received 
urgent letter from you pleading be allowed come here. Expect 
invitation shortly. 

Gussie. 

And on the morrow, after a tossing-on-pillow night, I received 
a bag of three. 

The first ran: 

Have worked it. Invitation dispatched. When you come, will 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 25 

you bring book entitled My Friends The Newts by Loretta 

Peabody published Popgood and Grooly get any bookshop. 

Gussk. 

The second: 

Bertie, you old ass, I hear you are coming here. Delighted, 

as something very important want you do for me. 

Stiffy. 

The third: 

Please come here if you wish, but, oh Bertie, is this wise ? 

Will not it cause you needless pain seeing me ? Siurely merely 

twisting knife wound. 

Madeline. 

Jeeves was bringing me the morning cup of tea when I read 
these missives, and I handed them to him in silence. He read 
them in same. I was able to imbibe about a fluid ounce of the hot 
and strengthening before he spoke. 

“I think that we should start at once, sir.” 

“I suppose so.” 

“I will pack immediately. Would you wish me to call Mrs. 
Travers on the telephone?” 

“Why?” 

“She has rung up several times this morning.” 

“Oh ? Then perhaps you had better give her a buzz.” 

“I think it will not be necessary, sir. I fancy that this would be 
the lady now.” 

A long and sustained peal had sounded from the front door, as 
if an aunt had put her thumb on the button and kept it there. 
Jeeves left the presence, and a moment later it was plain that his 
intuition had not deceived him. A booming voice rolled through 
the flat, the voice which once, when announcing the advent of a 
fox in their vicinity, had been wont to cause members of the 
Quorn and Pytchley to clutch their hats and bound m their 
saddles. 

“Isn’t that young hound awake yet, Jeeves ? . . . Oh, there you 
are.” 

Aunt Dahlia charged across the threshold. 

At all times and on all occasions, owing to years of fox-chiwying 
in every kind of weather, this relative has a fairly purple face, but 
one noted now an even deeper mauve than usual. The breath 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


26 

came jerkily, and the eyes gleamed with a goofy light. A man 
with far less penetration than Bertram Wooster would have been 
able to divine that there before him stood an aunt who had got 
the pip about something. 

It was evident that information which she yearned to uncork 
was bubbling within her, but she postponed letting it go for a 
m ntTipnt in order to reproach me for being in bed at such an 
hour. Sunk, as she termed it in her forthright way, in hoggish 
slumber. 

“Not sunk in hoggish slumber,” I corrected. “IVe been awake 
some little time. As a matter of fact, I was just about to partake of 
the mor nin g meal. You will join me, I hope ? Bacon and eggs may 
be taken as read, but say the word and we can do you a couple of 
kippers.” 

She snorted with a sudden violence which twenty-four hours 
earlier would have unmaimed me completely. Even in my 
present tolerably robust condition, it affected me rather like one 
of those gas explosions which slay six. 

“Eggs! Rippers! What I want is a brandy and soda. Tell 
Jeeves to mi x me one. And if he forgets to put in the soda, it will 
be all right with me. Bertie, a frightful thing has happened.” 

“Push along into the dining-saloon, my fluttering old aspen,” 
I said. “We shall not be interrupted there. Jeeves will want to 
come in here to pack.” 

“Are you off somewhere ?” 

“Todeigh Towers. I have had a most disturbing ” 

“Totleigh Towers? Well, Fm dashed! That’s just where I 
came to tell you you had jolly well got to go immediately.” 
“Eh?” 

“Matter of life and death.” 

“How do you mean ?” 

“You’ll soon see, when I’ve explained.” 

“Then come along to the dining-room and explain at your 
earliest convenience. Now then, my dear old mysterious hinter,” 
I said, when Jeeves had brought the foodstuffs and withdrawn, 
“tell me all.” 

For an instant, there was silence, broken only by the musical 
sound of an aunt drinking brandy and soda and self lowering a 
cup of coffee. Then she put down her beaker, and drew a deep 
breath. 

“Bertie,” she said, “I wish to begin by saying a few words 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


27 


about Sir Watkyn Bassett, C.B.E. May green fly attack his roses. 
May his cook get tight on the night of the big dinner party. May 
all his hens get the staggers.” 

“Does he keep hens ?” I said, putting a point. 

“May his cistern start leaking, and may white ants, if there are 
any in England, gnaw away the foundations of Totleigh Towers. 
And when he walks up the aisle with his daughter Madeline, to 
give her away to that ass Spink-Bottle, may he get a sneezing fit 
and find that he has come out without a pocket-handkerchief.” 

She paused, and it seemed to me that all this, while spirited 
stuff, was not germane to the issue. 

“Quite,” I said. “I agree with you in toto. But what has he 
done ?” 

“I will tell you. You remember that cow-creamer ?” 

I dug into a fried egg, quivering a little. 

“Remember it? I shall never forget it. You will scarcely 
believe this. Aunt Dahlia, but when I got to the shop, who 
should be there by the most amazing coincidence but this same 
Bassett ” 

“It wasn’t a coincidence. He had gone there to have a look at 
the thing, to see if it was all Tom had said it was. For — ^can you 
imagine such lunacy, Bertie ? — ^that chump of an uncle of yours 
had told the man about it. He might have known that the fiend 
would hatch some devilish plot for his undoing. And he did. Tom 
lunched with Sir Watkyn Bassett at the latter’s club yesterday. 
On the bill of fare was a cold lobster, and this Machiavelli sicked 
him on to it.” 

I looked at her incredulously. 

“You aren’t going to tell me,” I said, astounded, for I was 
familiar with the intensely delicate and finely poised mechanism 
of his tummy, “that Uncle Tom ate lobster ? After what hap- 
pened last Christmas ?” 

“At this man’s instigation, he appears to have eaten not only 
pounds of lobster, but forests of sliced cucumber as well. Ac- 
cording to his story, which he was able to tell me this morning — 
he coidd only groan when he came home yesterday — ^he resisted 
at first. He was strong and resolute. But then circumstances were 
too much for him. Bassett’s club, apparently, is one of ffiose 
clubs where they have the cold dishes on a table in the middle of 
the room, so placed that wherever you sit you can’t help seeing 
them.” 



28 


THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


I nodded. 

‘‘They do at tie Drones^ too. Catsmeat Potter-Pirbright once 
hit the game pie from the far window six times with six con- 
secutive rolls.” 

“That was what caused poor old Tom’s downfall. Bassett’s 
lobster sales-talk he might have been strong enough to ignore, 
but the sight of the thing was too much for him. He yielded, 
tucked in like a starving Esquimau, and at six o’clock I got a call 
from the hall porter, asking me if I would send the car round to 
fetch away the remains, which had been discovered by a page 
boy writhing in a corner of the library. He arrived half an hour 
later, calling weakly for bicarbonate of soda. Bicarbonate of soda, 
my foot!” said Aunt Dahlia, with a bitter, mirthless laugh. “He 
had to have two doctors and a stomach-pump.” 

“And in the meantime ?” I said, for I could see whither the 

tale was tending. 

“And in the meantime, of course, the fiend Bassett had nipped 
down and bought the cow-creamer. The man had promised to 
hold it for Tom till three o’clock, but naturally when three 
o’clock came and he didn’t turn up and there was another 
customer clamouring for the thing, he let it go. So there you are. 
Bassett has the cow-creamer, and took it down to Totleigh last 
night.” 

It was a sad story, of course, and one that bore out what I had 
so often felt about Pop Bassett — ^to wit, that a magistrate who 
could nick a fellow for five pounds, when a mere reprimand 
would more than have met the case, was capable of anything, but I 
couldn’t see what she thought there was to be done about it. The 
whole situation seemed to me essentially one of those where you 
just clench the hands and roll the eyes mutely up to heaven and 
then start a new life and try to forget. I said as much, while 
marmalading a slice of toast. 

She gazed at me in silence for a moment. 

“Oh? So that’s how you feel, is it?” 

“I do, yes.” 

“You admit, I hope, that by every moral law that cow-creamcr 
belongs to Tom?” 

“Oh, emphatically.” 

“But you would take this foul outrage lying down ? You would 
allow this stick-up man to get away with the swag ? Confronted 
with the spectacle of as raw a bit of underhanded skullduggery as 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 29 

has ever been perpetrated in a civilized country, you would just 
sit tight and say ‘Well, well!’ and do nothing?” 

I weighed this. 

“Possibly not ‘Well, well!’ I concede that the situation is one 
that calls for the strongest comment. But I wouldn’t do anj^ng.” 

“Well, I’m going to do something. I’m going to pinch the 
damn thing.” 

I stared at her, astounded. I uttered no verbal rebuke, but there 
was a distinct “Tut, tut!” in my gaze. Even though the provoca- 
tion was, I admitted, severe, I could not approve of these strong- 
arm methods. And I was about to try to awaken her dormant con- 
science by asking her gently what the Quorn would think of these 
goings-on — or, for the matter of that, the Pytchley — ^when she 
added: 

“Or, rather, you are!” 

I had just lighted a cigarette as she spoke these words, and so, 
according to what they say in the advertisements, ought to have 
been nonchalant. But it must have been the wrong sort of cig- 
arette, for I shot out of my chair as if somebody had shoved a 
bradawl through the seat. 

“Who, me?” 

“That’s right. See how it all fits in. You’re going to stay at 
Todeigh, You wdll have a hundred excellent opportunities of 
getting your hooks on the thing ” 

“But, dash it!” 

“ — and I must have it, because otherwise I shall never be able 
to dig a cheque out of Tom for that Pomona Grindle serial. He 
simply won’t be in the mood. And I signed the old girl up yester- 
day at a fabulous price, half the sum agreed upon to be paid in 
advance a week from current date. So snap into it, my lad. I can’t 
see what you’re making all this heavy weather about. It doesn’t 
seem to me much to do for a loved aunt.” 

“It seems to me a dashed lot to do for a loved aunt, and I’m 
jolly well not going to dream 

“Oh, yes you are, because you know what will happen, if you 
don’t.” She paused significantly. “You follow me, Watson ?” 

I was silent. She had no need to tell me what she meant. This 
was not the first time she had displayed the velvet hand beneath 
the iron glove — or, rather, the other way about — in this manner. 

For this ruthless relative has one all-powerful weapon which she 
holds constantly over my head like the sw^ord of— -who was the 



30 THE CODE OF THE WOOSTEES 

chap? — ^Jeeves would know — ^and by means of which she can 
always bend me to her will — vvl . the tlnreat that if I don’t kick in 
she will bar me from her board and wipe Anatole’s cooking from 
my lips. I shall not lightly forget the time when she placed 
sanctions on me for a whole month — ^right in the middle of the 
pheasant season, when this superman is at his incomparable best. 

I made one last attempt to reason with her. 

“But why does Uncle Tom want this frightful cow-creamer ? 
It’s a ghastly object. He would be far better without it.” 

“He doesn’t think so. Well, there it is. Perform this simple, 
easy task for me, or guests at my dinner table will soon be saying: 
‘Why is it that we never seem to see Bertie Wooster here any 
more?’ Bless my soul, what an amazing lunch that was that 
Anatole gave us yesterday! ‘Superb’ is the only word. I don’t 
wonder you’re fond of his cooking. As you sometimes say, it melts 
in the mouth.” 

I eyed her sternly. 

“Aunt Dahlia, this is blackmail!” 

“Yes, isn’t it ?” she said, and beetled off. 

I resumed my seat, and ate a moody slice of cold bacon. 

Jeeves entered. 

“The bags are packed, sir.” 

“Very good, Jeeves,” I said. “Then let us be starting.” 

“Man and boy, Jeeves,” I said, breaking a thoughtful silence 
which had lasted for about eighty-seven miles, “I have been in 
some tough spots in my time, but this one wins the mottled 
oyster.” 

We were bowling along in the old two-seater on our way to 
Totleigh Towers, self at the wheel, Jeeves at my side, the personal 
effects in the dickey. We had got off round about eleven-thirty, 
and the genial afternoon was now at its juiciest. It was one of those 
crisp, sunny, bracing days with a pleasant tang in the air, and had 
circumstances been different from what they were, I should no 
doubt have been feeling at the peak of my form, chatting gaily, 
waving to passing rustics, possibly even singing some light snatch - 

Unfortunately, however, if there was one thing circumstances 
weren’t, it was different from what they were, and there was no 
suspicion of a song on the lips. The more I thought of what lay 
before me at these bally Towers, the bowed-downer did the heart 
become. 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


31 


‘The mottled oyster/’ I repeated. 

“Sir?” 

I frowned. The man was being discreet, and this was no time 
for discretion. 

“Don’t pretend you don’t know all about it, Jeeves,” I said 
coldly. “You were in the next room throughout my interview with 
Aunt Dahlia, and her remarks must have been audible in 
Piccadilly.” 

He dropped the mask. 

“Well, yes, sir, I must confess that I did gather the substance 
of the conversation.” 

“Very well, then. You agree with me that the situation is a lulu ?” 

“Certainly a somewhat sharp crisis in your affairs would appear 
to have been precipitated, sir.” 

I drove on, brooding. 

“If I had my life to live again, Jeeves, I would start it as an 
orphan without any aunts- Don’t they put aunts in Turkey in 
sacks and drop them in the Bosphorus ?” 

“Odalisques, sir, I understand. Not aunts.” 

“Well, why not aunts ? Look at the trouble they cause in the 
world. I tell you, Jeeves, and you may quote me as saying this — 
Behind every poor, innocent, harmless blighter who is going down 
for the third time in the soup, you will find, if you look carefully 
enough, the aunt who shoved him into it.” 

“There is much in what you say, sir.” 

“It is no use telling me that there are bad aunts and good aunts. 
At the core, they are all alike. Sooner or later, out pops the cloven 
hoof. Consider this Dahlia, Jeeves. As sound an egg as ever 
cursed a foxhound for chasing a rabbit, I have always considered 
her. And she goes and hands me an assignment like this. Wooster, 
the pincher of policemen’s helmets, we know. We are familiar 
with Wooster, the supposed bag-snatcher. But it was left for this 
aunt to present to the world a Wooster who goes to the houses of 
retired magistrates and, while eating their bread and salt, swipes 
their cow-creamers. Faugh!” I said, for I was a good deal over- 
wrought. 

“Most disturbing, sir.” 

“I wonder how old Bassett will receive me, Jeeves.” 

“It will be interesting to observe his reactions, sir.” 

“He can’t very well throw me out, I suppose, Miss Bassett 
having invited me?” 



32 


THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


“No, sir.” 

“On the other hand, he can — and I think he will — look at me 
over the top of his pince-nez and make rummy snifiing noises. 
The prospect is not an agreeable one.” 

“No, sir.” 

“I mean to say, even if this cow-creamer thing had not come up, 
conditions would be sticky,” 

“Yes, sir. Alight I venture to inquire if it is your intention to 
endeavour to carry out Airs. Travers’s wishes ?” 

You can’t fling the hands up in a passionate gesture when you 
are driving a car at fifty miles an hour. Otherwise, I should have 
done so. 

“That is the problem which is torturing me, Jeeves. I can’t 
make up my mind. You remember that fellow you’ve mentioned 
to me once or twice, who let something wait upon something ? 
You know who I mean — ^the cat chap.” 

“Macbeth, sir, a character in a play of that name by the late 
William Shakespeare. He was described as letting T dare not’ wait 
upon T would,’ like the poor cat i’ th’ adage.” 

“Well, that’s how it is with me. I wobble, and I vacillate — ^if 
that’s the word ?” 

“Perfectly correct, sir.” 

“I think of being barred from those menus of Anatole’s, and I 
say to myself that I will take a pop. Then I reflect that my name at 
Totleigh Towers is already mud and that old Bassett is firmly 
convinced that I am a combination of Raffles and a pea-and- 
thimble man and steal everything I come upon that isn’t nailed 
down ” 

“Sir?” 

“Didn’t I tell you about that ? I had another encounter with 
him yesterday, the worst to date. He now looks upon me as the 
dregs of the criminal world — if not Public Enemy Number One, 
certainly Number Two or Three.” 

I informed him briefly of what had occurred, and conceive my 
emotion when I saw that he appeared to be finding something 
humorous in the recital. Jeeves does not often smile, but now a 
distinct simper had begun to wreathe his lips. 

“A laughable misunderstanding, sir.” 

“Laughable, Jeeves ?” 

He saw that his mirth had been ill-timed. He reassembled the 
features, ironing out the smile. 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


33 


"‘I beg your pardon;, sir. I should have said 'disturbing’.’’ 

“Quite.’’ 

“It must have been exceedingly trying, meeting Sir Watkyn in 
such circumstances.” 

“Yes, and it’s going to be a dashed sight more trying if he 
catches me pinching his cow-creamer. I keep seeing a vision of 
him doing it.” 

“I quite understand, sir. And thus the native hue of resolution 
is sicMied o’er with the pale cast of thought, and enterprises of 
great pitch and moment in this regard their currents turns awry 
and lose the name of action.” 

“Exactly. You take the words out of my mouth.” 

I drove on, brooding more than ever. 

“And here’s another point that presents itself, Jeeves. Even if I 
want to steal cow-creamers, how am I going to find the time ? It 
isn’t a thing you can just take in your stride. You have to plan and 
plot and lay schemes. And I shall need every ounce of con- 
centration for this business of Gussie’s.” 

“Exactly, sir. One appreciates the difficulty.” 

“And, as if that wasn’t enough to have on my mind, there is 
that telegram of Stiffy’s. You remember the third telegram that 
came this morning. It was from Miss Stephanie Byng, Miss 
Bassett’s cousin, who resides at Totleigh Towers. You’ve met her. 
She came to lunch at the flat a week or two ago. Smallish girl of 
about the tonnage of Jessie Matthews.” 

“Oh, yes, sir. I remember Miss Byng. A charming yoimg lady.” 

“Quite. But what does she want me to do for her ? That’s the 
question. Probably something completely unfit for human con- 
sumption. So I’ve got that to worry about, too. What a life!” 

“Yes, sir.” 

“Still, stiflf upper lip, I suppose, Jeeves, what ?” 

“Precisely, sir.” 

During ^ese exchanges, we had been breezing along at a 
fairish pace, and I had not failed to note that on a signpost which 
we had passed some little while back there had been inscribed the 
words “Totleigh-in-the-Wold, 8 miles.” There now appeared 
before us through the trees a stately home of E. 

I braked the car. 

“Journey’s End, Jeeves ?” 

“So I should be disposed to imagine, sir.” 

And so it proved. Having turned in at the gateway and fetched 



34 


THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


up at the front door^ we were informed by the butler that this was 
indeed the lair of Sir Watkyn Bassett. 

“Childe Roland to the dark tower came^ sir/" said Jeeves^ as 
we alighted^ though what he meant I hadn’t an earthly. Respond- 
ing with a brief Oh, ah,” I gave my attention to the butler, who 
was endeavouring to communicate something to me. 

What he was saying, I now gathered, was that if desirous of 
mixing immediately with the inmates I had chosen a bad moment 
for hitting the place. Sir Watkyn, he explained, had popped out 
for a breather. 

“I fancy he is somewhere in the grounds with Mr. Roderick 
Spode.” 

I started. After that affair at the antique shop, the name 
Roderick was, as you may imagine, rather deeply graven on my 
heart. 

“Roderick Spode ? Big chap with a small moustache and the 
sort of eye that can open an oyster at sixty paces ?” 

“Yes, sir. He arrived yesterday with Sir Watkyn from London. 
They went out shortly after lunch. Miss Madeline, I believe, is at 
home, but it may take some little time to locate her.” 

“How about Mr. Fink-Nottle ?” 

“I think he has gone for a walk, sir.” 

“Oh ? Well, right ho. Then Fll just potter about a bit.” 

I was glad of the chance of being alone for a while, for I 
wished to brood. I strolled off along the terrace, doing so. 

The news that Roderick Spode was on the premises had 
shaken me a good deal. I had supposed him to be some mere club 
acquaintance of old Bassett’s, who confined his activities ex- 
clusively to the metropolis, and his presence at the Towers 
rendered the prospect of trying to carry out Aunt Dahlia’s com- 
mission, always one calculated to unnerve the stoutest, twice as 
intimidating as it had been before, when I had supposed that I 
should be under the personal eye of Sir Watkyn alone. 

Well, you can see that for yourself, I mean to say. I mean, 
imagine how some xmfortunate Master Criminal would feel, on 
coming down to do a murder at the old Grange, if he found that 
not only was Sherlock Holmes putting in the week-end there, but 
Hercule Poirot, as well. 

The more I faced up to the idea of pinching that cow-creamer, 
the less I liked it. It seemed to me that there ought to be a middle 
course, and that what I had to do was explore avenues in the hope 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 35 

of finding some formula. To this end^ I paced the terrace with 
bent bean, pondering. 

Old Bassett, I noted, had laid out his money to excellent 
advantage. I am a bit of a connoisseur of country houses, and I 
found this one well up to sample. Nice fafade, spreading grounds, 
smoothly shaven lawns, and a general atmosphere of what is 
known as old-world peace. Cows were mooing in the distance, 
sheep and birds respectively bleating and tootling, and from 
somewhere near at hand there came the report of a gun, indicating 
that someone was having a whirl at the local rabbits. Totleigh 
Towers might be a place where Man was vile, but undoubtedly 
every prospect pleased. 

And I was strolling up and down, trying to calculate how long 
it would have taken die old bounder, fining, say, twenty people a 
day five quid apiece, to collect enough to pay for all this, when my 
attention was arrested by the interior of a room on the ground 
floor, visible through an open French window. 

It was a sort of minor drawing-room, if you know what I mean, 
and it gave the impression of being overfurnished. This was due 
to the fact that it was stuffed to bursting point with glass cases, 
these in their turn stuffed to bursting point with silver. It was 
evident that I was looking at the Bassett collection. 

I paused. Something seemed to draw me through the French 
window. And the next moment, there I was, vis-d-visy as the 
expression is, with my old pal the silver cow. It was standing in a 
smallish case over by the door, and I peered in at it, breathing 
heavily on the glass. 

It was with considerable emotion that I perceived that the case 
was not locked. 

I turned the handle. I dipped in, and fished it out. 

Now, whether it was my intention merely to inspect and 
examine, or whether I was proposing to shoot the works, I do not 
know. The nearest I can remember is that I had no really settled 
plans. My frame of mind was more or less that of a cat in an adage. 

However, I was not accorded leisure to review my emotions 
in what Jeeves would call the final analysis, for at this point a 
voice behind me said ‘ 'Hands up!” and, turning, I observed 
Roderick Spode in the window. He had a shotgun in his hand, 
and this he was pointing in a neghgent sort of way at my third 
waistcoat button. I gathered from his manner that he was one of 
those fellows who like firing from the hip. 



I HAD described Roderick Spode to the butler as a man with an 
eye that could open an oyster at sixty paces, and it was an eye 
of this nature that he was directing at me now. He looked like 
a Dictator on the point of starting a purge, and I saw that I had 
been mistaken in supposing him to be seven feet in height. Eight, 
at least. Also the slowly working jaw muscles. 

I hoped he w^as not going to say “Ha!’’ but he did. And as I had 
not yet mastered the vocal cords sufficiently to be able to reply, 
that concluded the dialogue sequence for the moment. Then, still 
keeping his eyes glued on me, he shouted: 

“Sir Watkyn!” 

There was a distant sound of Eh-yes-here-I-am-what-is-it-ing. 
“Come here, please. I have something to show you.” 

Old Bassett appeared in the window, adjusting his pince-nez. 
I had seen this man before only in the decent habiliments 
suitable to the metropolis, and I coirfess that even in the predica- 
ment in which I found myself I was able to shudder at the spect- 
acle he presented in the country. It is, of course, an axiom, as I 
have heard Jeeves call it, that the smaller the man, the louder the 
check suit, and old Bassett’s apparel was in keeping with his lack 
of inches. Prismatic is the only word for those frightful tweeds and, 
oddly enough, the spectacle of them had the effect of steadying 
my nerves. They gave me the feeling that nothing mattered. 

“Look!” said Spode. “Would you have thought such a thing 
possible ?” 

Old Bassett was goggling at me with a sort of stunned amaze- 
ment. 

“Good God! It’s the bag-snatcher!” 

“Yes. Isn’t it incredible ?” 

“It’s unbelievable. Why, damn it, it’s persecution. Fellow 
follows me everywhere, like Mary’s lamb. Never a free moment. 
How did you catch him?” 

“I happened to be coming along the drive, and I saw a furtive 
figure slink in at^ the window. I hurried up, and covered him 

36 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 37 

wit±L my gun. Just in time. He had already begun to loot the 
place.” 

‘"Wellj, I’m most obliged to you, Roderick. But what I can’t 
get over is the chap’s pertinacity. You would have thought that 
when we foiled that attempt of his in the Brompton Road^ he 
would have given up the thing as a bad job. But no. Down he 
comes here next day, Well^ he will be sorry he did.” 

“I suppose this is too serious a case for you to deal with sum- 
marily ?” 

“I can issue a warrant for his arrest. Bring him along to the 
library^ and I’ll do it now. The case will have to go to the Assizes 
or the Sessions.” 

‘‘What will he get^ do you think?” 

“Not easy to say. But certainly not less than ” 

“Hoyl” I said. 

I had intended to speak in a quiet, reasonable voice — going on, 
after I had secured their attention, to explain that I was on these 
premises as an invited guest, but for some reason the word came 
out like something Aunt Dahlia might have said to a fellow 
member of the Pytchley half a mile away across a ploughed field, 
and old Bassett shot back as if he had been jabbed in the eye with 
a burned stick. 

Spode commented on my methods of voice production. 

“Don’t shout like that!” 

“Nearly broke my ear-drum,” grumbled old Bassett. 

“But listen!” I yelled. “Will you listen!” 

A certain amount of confused argument then ensued, self 
trying to put the case for the defence and the opposition rather 
harping a bit on the row I was making. And in the middle of it all, 
just as I w^-as showing myself in particularly good voice, the door 
opened and somebody said “Goodness gracious !” 

I looked round. Those parted lips. . . . Those saucerlike eyes. 

. . . That slender figure, dirooping slightly at the hinges. . . . 

Madeline Bassett was in our midst. 

“Goodness gracious!” she repeated. 

I can well imagine that a casual observer, if I had confided to 
him my qualms at the idea of being married to this girl, would 
have raised his eyebrows and been at a loss to understand. 
“Bertie,” he would probably have said, “you don’t know what’s 
good for you,” adding, possibly, that he wished he had half my 
complaint. For Madeline Bassett was undeniably of attractive 



38 


THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


exterior — slim, svelte, if that’s the word, and bountifully equipped 
with golden hair and all the fixings. 

But where the casual observer would have been making his 
bloomer was in overlooking that squashy soupiness of hers, that 
subtle air she had of being on the point of talking baby-talk. It was 
that that froze the blood. She was definitely the sort of girl who 
puts her hands over a husband’s eyes, as he is crawling in to 
breakfast with a morning head, and says: “Guess who!” 

I once stayed at the residence of a newly married pal of mint^j 
and his bride had had carved in large letters over the fireplace 
in the drawing-room, where it was impossible to miss it, the 
legend: “Two Lovers Built This Nest,” and I can still recall tie 
look of dumb anguish in the other half of the sketch’s eyes every 
time he came in and saw it. Whether Madeline Bassett, on 
entering the marital state, would go to such an awful extreme, I 
could not say, but it seemed most probable. 

She was looking at us with a sort of pretty, wide-eyed wonder. 

“Whatever is all the noise about?” she said, “''^y, Bertie! 
When did you get here ?” 

“Oh, huUo. I’ve just arrived.” 

“Did you have a nice journey down ?” 

“Oh, rather, thanks. I came in the two-seater.” 

“You must be quite exhausted.” 

“Oh, no, tharks, rather not.” 

“Well, tea will be ready soon. I see you’ve met Daddy.” 

“Yes, I’ve met Daddy.” 

“And Mr. Spode.” 

“And Mr. Spode.” 

“I don’t know where Augustus is, but he’s sure to be in to 
tea.” 

“I’U count the moments.” 

Old Bassett had been listening to these courtesies with a dazed 
expression on the map — ^gulping a bit from time to time, like a 
fish that has been hauled out of a pond on a bent pin and isn’t at 
all sure it is equal to the pressure of events. One followed the 
mental processes, of course. To him, Bertram was a creature of the 
underworld who stole bags and umbrellas and, what made it 
worse, didn’t even steal them weU. No father likes to see his ewe 
lamb on chummy terms with such a one. 

“You don’t mean you know this man ?” he said. 

Madeline Bassett laughed the tinkling, silvery laugh which was 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


39 


one of the things that had got her so disliked by tlie better element. 

“Why^ Daddy^ you’re too absurd- Of course I know him. 
Bertie Wooster is an old^ old, a very dear old friend of mine. I 
told you he was coming here to-day.” 

Old Bassett seemed not abreast. Spode didn’t seem any too 
abreast^ either. 

“This isn’t your friend Mr. Wooster ?” 

“Of course.” 

“But he snatches bags.” 

“Umbrellas,” prompted Spode, as if he had been the King’s 
Remembrancer or something. 

“And umbrellas,” assented old Bassett. “And makes daylight 
raids on antique shops.” 

Madeline was not abreast — ^making three in all. 

“Daddy!” 

Old Bassett stuck to it stoutly. 

“He does, I tell you. I’ve caught him at it.” 

^^Pve caught him at it,” said Spode. 

“We’ve both caught him at it,” said old Bassett. “All over 
London. Wherever you go in London, there you will find this 
fellow stealing bags and umbrellas. And now in the heart of 
Gloucestershire.” 

“Nonsense!” said Madeline. 

I saw that it was time to put an end to all this rot. I was about 
fed up with that bag-snatching stuff. Naturally, one does not 
expect a magistrate to have all the details about the customers at 
his fingers’ ends — ^pretty good, of course, remembering his 
clientele at all — ^but one can’t just keep passing a thing like that off 
tactfully. 

“Of course it’s nonsense,” I thundered. “The whole thing is 
one of those laughable misimderstandings.” 

I must say I was expecting that my explanation would have 
gone better ^an it did. What I had anticipated was that after a few 
words from myself, outlining the situation, there would have been 
roars of jolly mirth, followed by apologies and backslappings. But 
old Bassett, like so many of these police court magistrates, was a 
difficult man to convince. Magistrates’ natures soon get warped. 
He kept interrupting and asking questions, and cocking an eye 
at me as he asked them. You know what I mean — questions 

beginning with “Just one moment and “You say ” and 

“Then you are asking us to believe ” Offensive, very. 



40 


THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


However, after a good deal of tedious spadework, I managed to 
get him straight on the umbrella, and he conceded that he might 
have judged me unjustly about that. 

“But how about the bags ?” 

“There weren’t any bags.” 

“I certainly sentenced you for something at Bosher Street. I 
remember it vividly.” 

“I pinched a policeman’s helmet.” 

“That’s just as bad as snatching bags.” 

Roderick Spode intervened unexpectedly. Throughout this — 
well, dash it, this absolute Trial of Mary Dugan — ^he had been 
standing by, thoughtfully sucking the muzzle of his gun and 
listening to my statement as if he thought it all pretty thin^ but 
now a flidcer of human feeling came into his granite face. 

“No,” he said, “I don’t think you can go so far as that. When I 
was at Oxford, I once stole a policeman’s hehnet myself.” 

I was astounded. Nothing in my relations with this man had 
given me the idea that he, too, had, so to speak, once lived in 
Arcady. It just showed, as I often say, that tihere is good in the 
worst of us. 

Old Bassett was plainly taken aback. Then he perked up. 

“Well, how about that affair at the antique shop ? Hey ? Didn’t 
we catch him in the act of miming off with my cow-creamer ? 
What has he got to say to that ?” 

Spode seemed to see the force of this. He removed the gun, 
which he had replaced between his lips, and nodded. 

“The bloke at the shop had given it to me to look at,” I said 
shordy. “He advised me to take it outside, where the light was 
better.” 

“You were rushing out.” 

“Staggering out. I trod on the cat.” 

“What cat?” 

“It appeared to be an animal attached to the personnel of the 
emporium.” 

“H’m! I saw no cat. Did you see a cat, Roderick?” 

“No, no cat.” 

“Ha! WeU, we will pass over the cat ” 

“But I didn’t,” I said, with one of my lightning flashes. 

“We will pass over the cat,” repeated old Bassett, ignoring the 
gag and leaving it lying there, “and come to another point, '^at 
were you doing with that cow-creamer ? You say you were looking 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


41 


at it. You are asking us to believe that you were merely subjecting 
it to a perfectly innocent scrutiny. Why ? What was your motive ? 
What possible interest could it have for a man like you ?” 

“Exactly,” said Spode. “The very question I was going to ask 
myself.” 

This bit of backing-up from a pal had the worst effect on old 
Bassett. It encouraged him to so great an extent that he now 
yielded completely to the illusion that he was back in his bally 
police court. 

“You say the proprietor of the shop handed it to you. I put it 
to you that you snatched it up and were making off with it. And 
now Mr. Spode catches you here, with the thing in your hands. 
How do you explain that ? What’s your answer to that ? Hey ?” 

“Why, Daddy!” said Madeline. 

I dare say you have been wondering at this pancake’s silence 
during aU the cut-and-thrust stuff which had been going on. It is 
readily explained. What had occurred was that shortly after 
saying “Nonsense!” in the earlier portion of the proceedings, she 
had happened to inhale some form of insect life, and since then 
had been choking quietly in the background. And as the situation 
was far too tense for us to pay any attention to choking girls, she 
had been left to carry on under her own steam while the men 
threshed out the subject on the agenda paper. 

She now came forward, her eyes stiU watering a bit. 

“Why, Daddy,” she said, “naturally your silver would be the 
first thing Bertie would want to look at. Of course, he is interested 
in it. Bertie is Mr. Travers’s nephew.” 

“What!” 

“Didn’t you know that ? Your uncle has a wonderful collection, 
hasn’t he, Bertie? I suppose he has often spoken to you of 
Daddy’s.” 

There was a pause. Old Bassett was breathing heavily. I didn’t 
like the look of him at all. He glanced from me to the cow- 
creamer, and from the cow-creamer to me, then back from me to 
the cow-creamer again, and it would have taken a far less astute 
observer than Bertram to fail to read what was passing in his 
mind. If ever I saw a bimbo engaged in putting two and two 
together, that bimbo was Sir Watkyn Bassett. 

“Oh!” he said. 

Just that. Nothing more. But it was enough. 

“I say,” I said, “could I send a telegram ?” 



42 


THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


“You can telephone it from the library,” said Madeline. “Pll 
take you there.” 

She conducted me to the instrument and left me, saying that 
she would be waiting in the hall when I had finished. I leaped at 
it, established connection with the post office, and after a brief 
conversation with what appeared to be the village idiot, telephoned 
as follows: 

Mrs. Travers, 

47, Charles Street, 

Berkeley Square, 

London. 

I paused for a moment, assembling the ideas, then proceeded 
thus: 

Deeply regret quite impossible carry out assignment re you 
know what. Atmosphere one of keenest suspicion and any sort 
of action instantly fatal. You ought to have seen old Bassett’s eye 
just now on learning of blood relationship of self and Uncle 
Tom. Like ambassador finding veiled woman snooping rounds 
safe containing secret treaty. Sorry and all that, but nothing^ 
doing. Love. 

Bertie. 

I then went down to the hall to joui Madeline Bassett. 

She was standing by the barometer, which, if it had had an 
ounce of sense in its head, would have been pointing to “Stormy” 
instead of “Set Fair” ; and as I hove alongside she turned and 
gazed at me with a tender goggle which sent a thrill of dread 
creeping down the Wooster spine. The thought that there stood 
one who was on distant terms with Gussie and might ’ere long 
return the ring and presents afflicted me with a nameless horror. 

I resolved that if a few quiet words from a man of the world 
could heal the breach, they should be spoken. 

“Oh, Bertie,” she said, in a low voice like beer trickling out of a 
jug, “you ought not to be here I” 

My recent interview with old Bassett and Roderick Spode had 
rather set me thinking along those lines myself. But I hadn’t time 
to explain that this was no idle social visit, and that if Gussie 
hadn’t been sending out SOS’s I wouldn’t have dreamed of 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 43 

coming within a hundred miles of the frightful place. She went on, 
looking at me as if I were a rabbit which she was expecting shortly 
to turn into a gnome. 

“Why did you come ? Oh, I know what you are going to say. 
You felt that, cost what it might, you had to see me again, just 
once. You could not resist the urge to take away with you one last 
memory, which you could cherish down the lonely years. Oh, 
Be“tie3 you remind me of Rudel.” 

The name was new to me. 

“Rudel?” 

“The Seigneur Geoffrey Rudel, Prince of Blaye-en-Saintonge.’’ 

I shook my head. 

“Never met him, I’m afraid. Pal of yours ?” 

“He lived in the Middle Ages. He was a ^eat poet. And he fell 
in love with the wife of the Lord of Tripoli.” 

I stirred uneasily. I hoped she was going to keep it clean. 

“For years he loved her, and at last he could resist no longer. 
He took ship to Tripoli, and his servants carried him ashore.” 

“Not feehng so good?” I said, groping. “Rough crossing?” 

“He was dying. Of love.” 

“Oh, ah.” 

“They bore him into the Lady Melisande’s presence on a 
litter, and he had just strength enough to reach out and touch her 
hand. Then he died.” 

She paused, and heaved a sigh that seemed to come straight up 
from the cami-knickers. A silence ensued. 

“Terrific,” I said, feeling I had to say something, though 
personally I didn’t think the story a patch on the one about the 
travelling salesman and the farmer’s daughter. Different, of 
course, if one had known the chap. 

She sighed again. 

“You see now why I said you reminded me of Rudel. Like him, 
you came to take one last glimpse of the woman you loved. It was 
dear of you, Bertie, and I shall never forget it. It will always 
remain with me as a fragrant memory, like a flower pressed 
between the leaves of an old album. But was it wise ? Should you 
not have been strong? Would it not have been better to have 
ended it all cleanly, diat day when we said good-bye at Brinkley 
Court, and not to have reopened the wound ? We had met, and 
you had loved me, and I had had to teU you that my heart was 
another’s. That should have been our farewell.” 



44 


THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


“Absolutely,” I said. I mean to say, all that was perfectly 
sound, as far as it went. If her heart really was another’s, fine . 
Nobody more pleased than Bertram. The whole nub of the thing 
was — ^was it ? “But I had a communication from Gussie, more or 
less indicating that you and he were p’fft.” 

She looked at me like someone who has just solved the cross- 
word pu2zle with a shrewd “Emu” in the top right-hand corner. 

“So that was why you came! You thought that there might still 
be hope ? Oh, Bertie, I’m sorry . . . sorry ... so sorry.” Her eyes 
were misty with the unshed, and about the size of soup plates. 
“No, Bertie, reaUy there is no hope, none. You must not build 
dream castles. It can only cause you pain. I love Augustus. He is 
my man.” 

“And you haven’t parted brass rags ?” 

“Of course not.” 

“Then what did he mean by saying ‘Serious rift Madeline and 
self’?” 

“Oh, that ?” She laughed another tinkling, silvery one. “That 
was nothing. It was aU too perfectly silly and ridiculous. Just the 
teeniest, weeniest litde misunderstanding. I thought I had found 
him flirting with my cousin Stephanie, and I was silly and jealous. 
But he explained everything this morning. He was only taking a 
fly out of her eye.” 

I suppose I might legitimately have been a bit shirty on learning 
that I had been hauled all the way down here for nothing, but I 
wasn’t. I was amazingly braced. As I have indicated, that telegram 
of Gussie’s had shaken me to my foimdations, causing me to fear 
the worst. And now the All Clear had been blown, and I had 
received absolute inside information straight from the horse’s 
mouth that aU was hotsy-totsy between this blister and himself. 

“So everything’s all right, is it ?” 

“Everything. I have never loved Augustus more than I do now.” 

“Haven’t you, by Jove ?” 

“Each moment I am with him, his wonderful nature seems to 
open before me like some lovely flower ?” 

“Does it, egad ?” 

“Every day I find myself discovering some new facet of his 
extraordinary character. For instance . . . You have seen him 
quite lately, have you not ?” 

“Oh, rather. I gave him a diimer at the Drones only the night 
before last.” 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


45 


“I wonder if you noticed any difference in him ?” 

I threw my mind back to the binge in question. As far as I 
could recollect, Gussie had been the same fish-faced freak I had 
always known. 

“Difference ? No, I don’t think so. Of course, at that dinner I 
hadn’t the chance to observe him very closely — subject his 
character to the final analysis, if you know what I mean. He sat 
next to me, and we talked of tliis and that, but you know how it is 
when you’re a host — you have all sorts of things to divert your 
attention . . . keeping an eye on the waiters, Dying to make the 
conversation general, heading Catsmeat Potter-Pkbright off 
from giving his imitation of Beatrice Lillie ... a hundred little 
duties. But he seemed to me much the same. What sort of 
difference ?” 

“An improvement, if such a thing were possible. Have you not 
sometimes felt in the past, Bertie, that, if Augustus had a fault, it 
was a tendency to be a little timid ?” 

I saw what she meant. 

“Oh, ah, yes, of course, definitely.” I remembered something 
Jeeves had once called Gussie. “A sensitive plant, what?” 

“Exactly. You know your Shelley, Bertie.” 

“Oh, am I ?” 

“That is what I have always thought him — a sensitive plant, 
hardly fit for the rough and tumble of life. But recently — ^in this 
last week, in fact — ^he has shown, together with that wonderful 
dreamy sweetness of his, a force of character which I had not 
suspected that he possessed. He seems completely to have lost his 
diffidence.” 

“By Jove, yes,” I said, remembering. “That’s right. Do you 
know, he actually made a speech at that dinner of mine, and a 
most admirable one. And, what is more ” 

I paused. I had been on the point of saying that, what was more, 
he had made it from start to finish on orange juice, and not — ^as 
had been the case at the Market Snodsbury prizegiviag — ^with 
about three quarts of mixed alcoholic stimulants lapping about 
inside him: and I saw that the statement might be injudicious. 
That Market Snodsbury exhibition on the part of the adored 
object was, no doubt, something which she was trying to forget. 

“Why, only this morning,” she said, “he spoke to Roderick 
Spode quite sharply.” 

“He did?” 



46 


THE CODE OF THE WOOSTEES 


“Yes. They were arguing about something, and Augustus told 
him to go and boil his head.” 

“Well, well !” I said. 

Naturally, I didn’t believe it for a moment. Well, I mean to 
say! Roderick Spode, I mean — a chap who even in repose would 
have roade an all-iu wrestler pause and pick his words. The thing 
wasn’t possible. 

I saw what had happened, of course. She was trying to give the 
boy friend a build-up and, like all ^Is, was overdoing it. I’ve 
noticed the same thing in young wives, when they’re trying to 
kid you that Herbert or George or whatever the name may be 
has Wdden depths which the vapid and irreflective observer might 
overlook. Women never know when to stop on these occasions. 

I remember Mrs. Bingo Little once telling me, shortly after 
their marriage, that Bingo said poetic things to her about sunsets 
— ^his best friends being perfectly well aware, of course, that the 
old egg never noticed a simset in his life and that, if he did by a 
fluke ever happen to do so, the only thing he would say about it 
would be that it reminded him of a slice of roast beef, cooked 
just right. 

However, you can’t call a girl a Uar; so, as I say, I said: “WeU, 
weU!” 

“It was the one thing that was needed to make him perfect. 
Sometimes, Bertie, I ask myself if I am worthy of so rare a soul.” 

“Oh, I wouldn’t ask yourself rot like that,” I said heartily. “Of 
course you are.” 

"It’s sweet of you to say so.” 

“Not a bit. You two fit like pork and beans. Anyone could see 
that it was a what-d’you-call-it . . . ideal union. I’ve known Gussie 
since we were kids together, and I wish I had a bob for every rimf 
I’ve thought to myself that the girl for him was somebody just 
like you.” 

“Really?” 

“Absolutely. And when I met you, I said: ‘That’s the bird! 
There she spouts !’ When is the wedding to be ?” 

“On the twenty-third.” 

“I’d make it earher.” 

“You think so ?” 

“Definitely. Get it over and done with, and then you’ll have it 
off your mind. You can’t be married too soon to a chap like 
Gussie. Great chap. Splendid chap. Never met a chap I respected 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 47 

more. They don’t often make them like Gussie. One of the 
fruitiest.” 

She reached out and grabbed my hand and pressed it. Un- 
pleasant, of course, but one has to take the rough with the smooth. 

“Ah, Bertie! Always the soul of generosity!” 

“No, no, rather not. Just saying what I think.” 

“It makes me so happy to feel that ... all this . . . has not 
interfered with your affection for Augustus.” 

“I should say not.” 

“So many men in your position might have become em- 
bittered.” 

“SiUy asses.” 

“But you are too fine for that. You can still say these wonderful 
things about him.” 

“Oh, rather.” 

“Dear Bertie!” 

And on this cheery note we parted, she to go messing about on 
some domestic errand, I to head for the drawing-room and get a 
spot of tea. She, it appeared, did not take tea, being on a diet. 

And I had reached the drawing-room, and was about to shove 
open the door, which was ajar, when from the other side there 
came a voice. And what it was saying was : 

“So kindly do not talk rot, Spode!” 

There was no possibility of mistake as to whose voice it was. 
From his earliest years, there has always been something distinc- 
tive and individual about Gussie’s timbre, reminding the hearer 
partly of an escape of gas from a gas-pipe and partly of a sheep 
calling to its young in the lambing season. 

Nor was there any possibility of mistake about what he had 
said. The words were precisely as I have stated, and to say that I 
was surprised would be to put it too weakly. I saw now that it was 
perfectly possible that there might be something, after all, in that 
wild story of Madeline Bassett’s. I mean to say, an Augustus 
Fink-Nottle who told Roderick Spode not to talk rot was an 
Augustus Fink-Notde who might quite well have told him to go 
and boil his head. 

I entered the room, marvelling. 

Except for some sort of dim female abaft the teapot, who looked 
as if she might be a cousin by marriage or sometliing of that 
order, only Sir Watk3na Bassett, Roderick Spode and Gussie 



48 


THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


were present. Gussie was straddling the hearthrug with his legs 
apart, wanning himself at the blaze which should, one would 
have said, been reserved for the trouser-seat of the master of the 
house, and I saw immediately what Madeline Bassett had meant 
when she said that he had lost his diffidence. Even across the room 
one could see that, when it came to self-confidence, Mussolini 
could have taken his correspondence course. 

He sighted me as I entered, and waved what seemed to me a 
dashed patronizing hand. Quite the ruddy Squire graciously 
receiving the deputation of tenantry. 

“Ah, Bertie. So here you are.” 

“Yes.” 

“Come in, come in and have a crumpet.” 

“Thanks.” 

“Did you bring that book I asked you to ?” 

“Awfully sorry. I forgot.” 

“Well, of all the muddle-headed asses that ever stepped, you 
certainly are the worst. Others abide our question, thou art free.” 

And dismissing me with a weary gesture, he called for another 
potted-meat sandwich. 

I have never been able to look back on my first meal at Totleigh 
Towers as among my happiest memories. The cup of tea on 
arrival at a country house is a thing which, as a rule, I particularly 
enjoy. I like the crackling logs, the shaded lights, the scent of 
buttered toast, the general atmosphere of leisured cosiness. There 
is something that seems to speak to the deeps in me in the beaming 
smile of my hostess and the furtive whisper of my host, as he 
plucks at my elbow and says “Let’s get out of here and go and 
have a whisky and soda in the gun-room.” It is on such occasions 
as this, it has often been said, that you catch Bertram Wooster at 
his best. 

But now all sense of bien-Stre was destroyed by Gussie’s 
pecuhar manner — ^that odd suggestion he conveyed of having 
bought the place. It was a relief when the gang had finally drifted 
away, leaving us alone. There were mysteries here which I 
wanted to probe. 

I thought it best, however, to be^ by taking a second opinion 
on the position of affairs between hamself and Madeline. She had 
told me that everything was now hunky-dory once more, but it 
was one of those points on which you cannot have too much 
assurance. 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 49 

“I saw Madeline just now^” I said. ""She tells me that you are 
sweethearts still. Correct?’’ 

‘"Quite correct. There was a little temporary coolness about my 
taking a fly out of Stephanie Byng’s eye, and I got a bit panicked 
and wired you to come down. I thought you might possibly 
plead. However, no need for that now. I took a strong Ime, and 
everything is all right. Still, stay a day or two, of course, as you’re 
here.” 

""Thanks.” 

“No doubt you will be glad to see your aunt. She arrives to- 
night, I understand.” 

I could make nothing of this. My Aunt Agatha, I knew, was in a 
nursing-home with jaundice. I had taken her flowers only a 
couple of days before. And naturally it couldn’t be Aunt Dahlia, 
for she had mentioned nothing to me about any plans for infesting 
Totleigh Towers. 

“Some mistake,” I said. 

“No mistake at all. Madeline showed me the telegram that 
came from her this morning, asking if she could be put up for a 
day or two. It was dispatched from London, I noticed, so I 
suppose she has left Brinkley.” 

I stared. 

“You aren’t talking about my Aunt Dahlia ?” 

“Of course I’m ta&ing about your Aunt Dahlia.” 

""You mean Aunt Dahlia is coming here to-night ?” 

“Exactly.” 

This was nasty news, and I found myself chewing the lower 
lip a bit in undisguised concern. This sudden decision to follow 
me to Totleigh Towers could mean only one thing, that Aunt 
Dahlia, thinking things over, had become mistrustful of my will to 
win, and had felt it best to come and stand over me and see that I 
did not shirk the appointed task. And as I was fully resolved to 
shirk it, I could envisage some dirty weather ahead. Her attitude 
toward a recalcitrant nephew would, I feared, closely resemble 
that which in the old tally-ho days she had been wont to adopt 
towards a hound which refused to go to cover. 

“Tell me,” continued Gussie, “what sort of voice is she in these 
days ? I ask, because if she is going to make those hunting noises 
of hers at me during her visit, I shall be compelled to tick her olf 
pretty sharply. I had enough of that sort of thing when I was 
staying at Brinkley.” 



50 


THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


I would have liked to go on musing on the unpleasant situation 
which had arisen, but it seemed to me that I had been given the 
cue to begin my probe. 

“What’s haopened to you, Gussie ?” I asked. 

“Eh?” 

“Since when have you been like this ?” 

“I don’t understand you.” 

“Well, to take an instance, saying you’re going to tick Aunt 
Dahha off. At Brinkley, you cowered before her like a wet sock. 
And, to take another instance, telling Spode not to talk rot. By 
the way, what was he talking rot about?” 

“I forgot. He talks so much rot.” 

“I wouldn’t have the nerve to tell Spode not to talk rot,” I 
said frankly. My candour met with an immediate response. 

“Well, to teU you the truth, Bertie,” said Gussie, coming 
clean, “neither would I, a week ago.” 

“What happened a week ago ?” 

“I had a spiritual rebirth. Thanks to Jeeves. There’s a chap, 
Bertie!” 

“Ah!” 

“We are as httle children, frightened of the dark, and Jeeves is 
the wise nurse who takes us by the hand and ” 

“Switches the light on ?” 

“Precisely. Would you care to hear about it?” 

I assured him that I was all agog. I settled myself in my chair 
and, putting match to gasper, awaited the inside story. 

Gussie stood silent for a moment. I could see that he was 
marshalling his facts. He took off his spectacles and polished them. 

“A week ago, Bertie,” he began, “my affairs had reached a 
crisis. I was faced by an ordeal, the mere prospect of which 
blackened the horizon. I discovered tliat I would have to make a 
speech at the wedding breakfast.” 

“WeU, naturally.” 

“I know, but for some reason I had not foreseen it, and the 
news came as a stunning blow. And shall I tell you why I was so 
overcome by stark horror at the idea of making a speech at the 
wedding breakfast? It was because Roderick Spode and Sir 
Watkyn Bassett would be in the audience. Do you know Sir 
Watkjm intimately?” 

“Not very. He once fined me five quid at his police court.” 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


51 


“Weil, you can take it from me that he is a hard nut, and he 
strongly objects to having me as a son-in-law. For one tiling, he 
would have liked Madeline to marry Spode — ^who, I may mention, 
has loved her since she was so high.’’ 

“Oh, yes?” I said, courteously concealing my astonishment 
that anyone except a certified boob like himself could deliberately 
love this girl. 

“Yes. But apart from the fact that she wanted to marry me, 
he didn’t want to marry her. He looks upon himself as a Man of 
Destiny, you see, and feels that marriage would interfere with his 
mission. He takes a line through Napoleon.” 

I felt that before proceeding further I must get the low-down 
on this Spode. I didn’t follow all this Man of Destiny stuff. 

“How do you mean, his mission ? Is he someone special ?” 

“Don’t you~ ever read the papers ? Roderick Spode is the 
founder and head of the Saviours of Britain, a Fascist organisation 
better known as the Black Shorts. His general idea, if he doesn’t 
get knocked on the head with a bottle in one of the frequent 
brawls in which he and his followers indulge, is to make himself 
a Dictator.” 

“Well, I’m blowed!” 

I was astounded at my keenness of perception. The moment I 
had set eyes on Spode, if you remember, I had said to myself 
“What ho! A Dictator!” and a Dictator he had proved to be. I 
couldn’t have made a better shot, if I had been one of those 
detectives who see a chap walking along the street and deduce 
that he is a retired manufacturer of poppet valves named Robinson 
with rheumatism in one arm, living at Clapham. 

“Well, I’m dashed! I thought he was something of that sort. 
That chin. . . . Those eyes. . . . And, for the matter of that, that 
moustache. By the way, when you say ‘shorts,’ you mean ‘shirts,’ 
of course.” 

“No. By the time Spode formed his association, there were no 
shirts left. He and his adherents wear black shorts.” 

“Footer bags, you mean ?” 

“Yes.” 

“How perfectly foul.” 

“Yes.” 

“Bare knees?” 

“Bare knees.” 

“Golly!” 



52 


THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


■‘Yes.’ 

A thought struck me, so revolting that I nearly dropped my 
gasper. 

“Does old Bassett wear black shorts ?” 

“No. He isn’t a member of the Saviours of Britain.” 

“Then how does he come to be mixed up -with Spode ? I met 
them going around London like a couple of sailors on shore leave.” 

“Sir Watkyn is engaged to be married to his aunt — ^a Mrs. 
Wintergreen, widow of the late Colonel H. H. Wintergreen, of 
Pont Street.” 

I mused for a moment, reviewing in my mind the scene in the 
antique-bin. 

When you are standing in the dock, with a magistrate looking at 
you over his pince-nez and talking about you as “the prisoner 
Wooster,” you have ample opportunity for drinking him in, and 
what had struck me principally about Sir Watkyn Bassett that 
day at Bosher Street had been his peevishness. In that shop, on 
the other hand, he had given the impression of a man who has 
found the blue bird. He had hopped about like a carefree cat on 
hot bricks, exhibiting the merchandise to Spode with Kttle chirps 
of “I think your aunt would like this ?” and “How about this ?” 
and so forth. And now a clue to that fizziness had been provided. 

“Do you know, Gussie,” I said, “I’ve an idea he must have 
clicked yesterday.” 

“Quite possibly. However, never mind about that. That is not 
the point.” 

“No, I know. But it’s interesting.” 

“No, it isn’t.” 

“Perhaps you’re right.” 

“Don’t let us go wandering olSF into side issues,” said Gussie, 
c allin g the meeting to order. “Where was I ?” 

“I don’t know.” 

“I do. I was telling you that Sir Watkyn disliked the idea of 
having me for a son-in-law. Spode also was opposed to the match. 
Nor cHd he make any attempt to conceal the fact. He used to come 
popping out at me from round corners and muttering threats.” 

“You couldn’t have liked that.” 

“I didn’t.” 

“Why did he mutter threats ?” 

“Because though he would not marry Madeline, even if she 
would have him, he looks on himself as a sortof knight, watching 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


53 


over her. He keeps telling me that the happiness of that little girl is 
very dear to him^ and that if ever I let her down^ he will bre& my 
neck- That is the gist of the threats he mutters^ and that was one of 
the reasons why I was a bit agitated when Madeline became 
distant in her manner^ on catching me with Stephanie Byng/" 

“Tell me^ Gussie^ what were you and Stifiy actually doing 

“I was taking a fly out of her eye.” 

I nodded. If that was his story, no doubt he was wise to stick to 
it. 

“So much for Spode. We now come to Sir Watkyn Bassett. At 
our very first meeting I could see that I was not his dream man.” 

“Me, too.” 

“I became engaged to Madeline, as you know, at Brinkley 
Court. The news of the betrothal was, therefore, conveyed to him 
by letter, and I imagine that the dear girl must have hauled up her 
slacks about me in a way that led him to suppose that what he was 
getting was a sort of cross between Robert Taylor and Einstein. 
At any rate, when I was introduced to him as the man who was to 
marry his daughter, he just stared for a moment and said ‘What ?* 
Incredulously, you know, as if he were hoping that this was some 
jolly practical joke and that the real chap would shortiy jump out 
from behind a chair and say ‘Boo!’ When he at last got on to it 
that there was no deception, he went oflf into a corner and sat 
there for some time, holding his head in his hands. After that I 
used to catch him looking at me over the top of his pince-nez. 
It unsettled me.” 

I wasn’t surprised. I have already alluded to the effect that 
over-the-top-ojf-the-pince-nez look of old Bassett’s had had on 
me, and I could see that, if directed at Gussie, it might quite 
conceivably have stirred tihe old egg up a good deal. 

“He also sniflfed. And when he learned from Madeline that I 
was keeping newts in my bedroom, he said something very 
derogatory — under his breath, but I heard him.” 

“You’ve got the troupe wi& you, then?” 

“Of course. I am in the middle of a very delicate experiment. 
An American professor has discovered that the full moon in- 
fluences the love life of several undersea creatures, including one 
species of fish, two starfish groups, eight kinds of worms and a 
ribbon-like seaweed called Dictyota. The moon will be full in 
two or three days, and I want to find out if it affects the love life 
of newts, too.” 



54 


THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


“But what is the love life of newts, if you boil it right down ? 
Didn’t you teU me once that they just waggled their tails at one 
another in the mating season ?” 

“Quite correct.” 

I shrugged my shoulders. 

“Well, all right, if they like it. But it’s not my idea of molten 
passion. So old Bassett didn’t approve of the dumb chums ?” 

“No. He didn’t approve of anything about me. It made things 
most diflhcult and disagreeable. Add Spode, and you will under- 
stand why I was beginning to get thoroughly rattled. And then, 
out of a blue sky, they sprang it on me that I would have to makp 
a speech at the wedding breakfast — to an audience, as I said 
before, of which Roderick Spode and Sir Watkyn Bassett would 
form a part.” 

He paused, and swallowed convulsively, like a Pekingese 
taking a pill. 

“I am a shy man, Bertie. Diffidence is the price I pay for 
having a hyper-sensitive nature. And you know how I feel about 
makin g speeches under any conditions. The mere idea appals me. 
When you lugged me into that prizegiving affair at Market 
Snodsbxiry, the thought of standing on a platform, faced by a mob 
of pimply boys, fDfied me with a panic terror. It haunted my 
dreams. You can imagine, then, what it was like for me to have to 
contemplate that wedding breakfast. To the task of har anguin g 
a flock of aunts and cousins I might have steeled myself. I don’t 
say it would have been easy, but I might have managed it. But to 
get up with Spode on one side of me and Sir Watkyn Bassett on 
the other ... I didn’t see how I was going to face it. And then out 
of the night that covered me, black as the pit from pole to pole, 
there shone a tiny gleam of hope. I thought of Jeeves.” 

His hand moved upwards, and I thiiik his idea was to bare his 
head reverently. The project was, however, rendered null and 
void by the fact that he hadn’t a hat on. 

“I thought of Jeeves,” he repeated, “and I took the train to 
London and placed my problem before him. I was fortunate to 
catch him in time.” 

“How do you mean, in time ?” 

“Before he left England.” 

“He isn’t leaving England.” 

“He told me that you and he were starting off almost im- 
mediately on one of those Round-the-World cruises.” 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


55 


“Oh, no, that’s all off. I didn’t like the scheme.” 

“Does Jeeves say it’s all off?” 

“No, but I do.” 

“Oh?” 

He looked at me rather oddly, and I thought he was going to 
say something more on the subject. But he only gave a rummy 
sort of short laugh, and resumed his narrative. 

“Well, as I say, I went to Jeeves, and put the facts before him. 
I begged him to try to find some way of getting me out of this 
frightful situation in which I was enmeshed — ^assuring him that I 
wotild not blame him if he failed to do so, because it seemed to me, 
after some days of reviewing the matter, that I was beyond human 
aid. And you wiU scarcely credit this, Bertie, I hadn’t got more 
than half-way through the glass of orange juice with which he had 
suppHed me, when he solved the whole thing. I wouldn’t have 
believed it possible. I wonder what that brain of his weighs.” 

“A good bit, I fancy. He eats a lot of fish. So it was a winner, 
was it, this idea?” 

“It was terrific. He approached the matter from the psycho- 
logical angle. In the final analysis, he said, disinclination to speak 
■in public is due to fear of one’s audience.” 

“Well, I could have told you that.” 

“Yes, but he indicated how this might be cured. We do not, he 
said, fear those whom we despise. The thing to do, therefore, is to 
cultivate a lofty contempt for those who will be listening to one.” 

“How ?” 

“Quite simple. You fill your mind with scornful thoughts 
about them. You keep saying to yourself; ‘Think of that pimple 
on Smith’s nose’ . . . ‘Consider Jones’s flapping ears’ . . . ‘Re- 
member the time Robinson got hauled up before the beak for 
travelling first-class with a third-class ticket’ . . . ‘Don’t forget 
you once saw the child Brown being sick at a children’s party’ . . . 
and so on- So that when you are called upon to address Smith, 
Jones, Robinson and Brown, they have lost their sting. You 
dominate them.” 

I pondered on this. 

“I see. Well, yes, it sounds good, Gussie. But would it work in 
practice ?” 

“My dear chap, it works like a charm. I’ve tested it. You recall 
my speech at that diimer of yours ?” 

I started. 



56 


THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


“You weren’t despising us ?” 

“Certainly I was. Thoroughly.” 

“What, me?” 

“You, and Freddie Widgeon, and Bingo Little, and Catsmeat 
Potter-Pirbright, and Barmy Fotheringay-Phipps, and all the rest 
of those present. ‘Worms!’ I said to myself. ‘What a crew!’ I said 
to myself. ‘There’s old Bertie,’ I said to myself. ‘Golly!’ I said to 
myself, ‘what I know about himV With the result that I played on 
you as on a lot of stringed instruments, and achieved an out- 
standing triumph.” 

I must say I was conscious of a certain chagrin. A bit thick, I 
mean, being scorned by a goof like Gussie — ^and that at a moment 
when he had been bursting with one’s meat and orange juice. 

But soon more generous emotions prevailed. After all, I told 
myself, the great thing — ^the fundamental thing to which all other 
considerations must yield — ^was to get this Fink-Nottle safely 
under the wire and off on his honeymoon. And but for tliis advice 
of Jeeves’s, the muttered threats of Roderick Spode and the 
combined sniffing and looking over the top of the pince-nez of Sir 
Watkyn Bassett might weU have been sufficient to destroy his 
morale entirely and cause him to cancel the wedding arrangements 
and go off hunting newts in Africa. 

“Well, yes,” I said, “I see what you mean. But dash it, Gussie, 
conceding the fact that you might scorn Barmy Fotheringay- 
Phipps and Catsmeat Potter-Pirbright and — stretching the 
possibilities a bit — ^me, you couldn’t despise Spode.” 

“Couldn’t I ?” He laughed a hght laugh. “I did it on my head. 
And Sir Watkyn Bassett, too. I tell you, Bertie, I approach this 
wedding breakfast without a tremor. I am gay, confident, debonair. 
There will be none of that blushing and stammering and twiddling 
the fingers and plucking at the tablecloth which you see in most 
bridegrooms on these occasions. I shall look these men in the eye, 
and make them wilt. As for the aunts and cousins, I shall have 
them rolling in the aisles. The moment Jeeves spoke those words, 
I settled down to think of all the things about Roderick Spode 
and Sir Watkyn Bassett which expose them to the just contempt of 
their fellow men. I could tell you fifty things about Sir Watl^n 
alone which would make you wonder how such a moral and 
physical blot on the English scene could have been tolerated all 
these years. I wrote them down in a notebook.” 

“You wrote them down in a notebook?” 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


57 


“A small leather-covered notebook. I bought it in the village.” 

I confess that I was a bit agitated. Even though he presumably 
kept it under lock and key, the mere existence of such a book 
made one uneasy. One did not care to think what the upshot and 
outcome would be were it to faU into the wrong hands. A brochure 
like that would be d3mamite. 

“Where do you keep it ?” 

“In my breast pocket. Here it is. Oh, no, it isn’t. That’s funny,” 
said Gussie. “I must have dropped it somewhere.” 



I don’t know if you have had the same experience^ but a thing I 
have found in life is that from time to time, as you jog along, 
there occur moments which you are able to recognize immediately 
with the naked eye as high spots. Something tells you that they are 
going to remain etched, if etched is the word I want, for ever on 
the memory and will come back to you at intervals down the 
years, as you are dropping off to sleep, banishing that drowsy 
feeling and causing you to leap on the pillow like a gaffed salmon. 

One of these well-remembered moments in my own case was 
the time at my first private school when I sneaked down to the 
headmaster’s study at dead of night, my spies having informed me 
that he kept a tin of biscuits in the cupboard under the bookshelf; 
to discover, after I was well inside and a modest and unobtrusive 
withdrawal impossible, that the old bounder was seated at his 
desk — by what I have always thought a rather odd coincidence 
actually engaged in the composition of my end-of-term report, 
which subsequently turned out a stinker. 

It was a situation in which it would be paltering with the truth 
to say that Bertram retained unimpaired his customary sang-froid. 
But I’m dashed if I can remember staring at the Rev. Aubrey 
Upjohn on that occasion with half the pallid horror which had 
shot into the map at these words of Gussie’s. 

“Dropped it ?” I quavered. 

“Yes, but it’s all right.” 

“All right?” 

“I mean, I can remember every word of it.” 

“Oh, I see. That’s fine.” 

“Yes.” 

“Was there much of it ?” 

“Oh, lots.” 

“Good stuff?” 

“Of the best.” 

“Well, that’s splendid.” 

I looked at him with growing wonder. You would have thought 
that by this time even this pre-eminent sub-normal would have 

58 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


59 


Spotted the frightful peril that lurked. But no. His tortoisesheU- 
rimmed spectacles shone with a jovial light. He was full of elan 
and espieglerie, without a care in the world. AU right up to the 
neck, but from there on pure concrete — ^that was Augustus Fink- 
Notde. 

“Oh, yes,” he said, “I’ve got it all carefully memorized, and 
I’m extremely pleased with it. During this past week I have been 
subjecting the characters of Roderick Spode and Sir Watkyn 
Bassett to a pitiless examination. I have probed these two gumboils 
to the very core of their being. It’s amazing the amount of 
material you can assemble, once you begin really analysing 
people. Have you ever heard Sir Watkyn Bassett de aling with a 
bowl of soup ? It’s not unlike the Scotch express going through 
a tunnel. Have you ever seen Spode eat asparagus ?” 

“No.” 

“Revolting. It alters one’s whole conception of Man as Nature’s 
last word.” 

“Those were two of the things you wrote in the book ?” 

“I gave them about half a page. They were just trivial, surface 
faults. The bulk of my researches went much deeper.” 

“I see. You spread yourself?” 

“Very much so.” 

“And it was all bright, snappy smff ?” 

“Every word of it.” 

“That’s great. I mean to say, no chance of old Bassett being 
bored when he reads it.” 

“Reads it?” 

“Well, he’s just as likely to find the book as anyone, isn’t he ?” 

I remember Jeeves saying to me once, apropos of how you can 
never tell what the weather’s going to do, that full many a glorious 
morning had he seen flatter the mountain tops with sovereign eye 
and then turn into a rather nasty afternoon. It was the same vdth 
Gussie now. He had been beaming like a searchlight until I 
mentioned this aspect of the matter, and the radiance suddenly 
disappeared as if it had been switched off at the main. 

He stood gaping at me very much as I had gaped at the Rev. A. 
Upjohn on the occasion to which I have alluded above. His 
expression was almost identical with that which I had once 
surprised on the face of a fish, whose name I cannot recall, in 
the royal aquarium at Monaco. 

“I never thought of that!” 



60 


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“Start now.” 

“Oh, my gosh!” 

“Yes.” 

“Oh,’ my golly!” 

“Quite.” 

“Oh, my sainted aunt!” 

“Absolutely.” 

He moved to the tea table like a man in a dream, and started to 
eat a cold crumpet. His eyes, as they sought mine, were bulging. 

“Suppose old Bassett does find that book, what do you 
will ensue?” 

I could answer that one. 

“He would immediately put tlie bee on the wedding.” 

“You don’t really think that ?” 

“I do.” 

He choked over his crumpet. 

“Of course he would,” I said. “You say he has never been any 
too sold on you as a son-in-law. Reading that book isn’t going to 
cause a sudden change for the better. One glimpse of it, and he 
will be countermanding the cake and telling Madeline that she 
shall marry you over his dead body. And she isn’t the sort of girl 
to defy a parent.” 

“Oh, my gosh!” 

“StiU, I wouldn’t worry about that, old naan,” I said, pointing 
out the bright side, “because long before it happened, Spode 
would have broken your neck.” 

He plucked feebly at another crumpet. 

“This is frightful, Bertie.” 

“Not too good, no.” 

“I’m in the soup.” 

“Up to the thorax.” 

“What’s to be done ?” 

“I don’t know.” 

“Can’t you think of anything ?” 

“Nothing. We must just put our trust in a higher power.” 

“Consult Jeeves, you mean ?” 

I shook the lemon. 

“Even Jeeves cannot help us here. It is a straight issue of 
finding and recovering that notebook before it can get to old 
Bassett. Why on earth didn’t you keep it locked up somewhere ?” 

“I couldn’t. I was always writing fresh stuff in it. I never knew 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


61 


when the inspiration would come, and I had to have it handy.” 

“You’re sure it w'as in your breast pocket ?” 

“Quite sure.” 

“It couldn’t be in your bedroom, by any chance?” 

“No. I always kept it on me — so as to have it safe.” 

“Safe. I see.” 

“And also, as I said before, because I had constant need of it. 
I’m trying to think where I saw it last. Wait a minute. It’s 
beginning to come back. Yes, I remember. By the pump.” 

“What pump?” 

“The one in the stable yard, where they fill the buckets for the 
horses. Yes, that is where I saw it last, before lunch yesterday. I 
took it out to jot down a note about the way Sir Watkyn slopped 
his porridge about at breakfast, and I had just completed my 
critique when I met Stephanie Byng and took the fly out of her 
eye. Bertie!” he cried, breaking off. A strange light had come into 
his spectacles. He brought his fist down with a bang on the table. 
Silly ass. Alight have known he would upset the milk. “Bertie, 
I’ve just remembered something. It is as if a curtain had been 
rolled up and all was revealed. The whole scene is rising before 
my eyes. I took the book out, and entered the porridge item. 
I then put it back in my breast pocket. Where I keep my handker- 
chief.” 

"WeU?” 

“Where I keep my handkerchief,” he repeated. “Don’t you 
understand ? Use your intelligence, man. What is the first thing 
you do, when you find a girl with a fly in her eye ?” 

I uttered an exclamash. 

“Reach for your handkerchief!” 

“Exactly. And draw it out and extract the fly with the corner of 
it. And if there is a small brown leather-covered notebook along- 
side the handkerchief ” 

“It shoots out 

“And falls to earth ” 

“ — ^you know not where.” 

“But I do know where. That’s just the point. I could lead you 
to the exact spot.” 

For an instant I felt braced. Then moodiness returned. 

“Yesterday before lunch, you say ? Then someone must have 
found it by this time.” 

“That’s just what I’m coming to. I’ve remembered something 



62 


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else. Immediately after I had coped with the fly, I recollect 
hearing Stephanie say ‘Hullo, what’s that ?’ and seeing her stoop 
and pick something up. I didn’t pay much attention to the 
episode at the time, for it was just at tliat moment that I caught 
sight of Madeline. She was standing in the entrance of the stable 
yard, with a distant look on her face. I may mention that in order 
to extract the fly I had been compelled to place a hand imder 
Stephanie’s chin, in order to steady the head.” 

“Quite.” 

“Essential on these occasions.” 

“Definitely.” 

“Unless the head is kept rigid, you cannot operate. I tried to 
point this out to Madeline, but she wouldn’t listen. She swept 
away, and I swept after her. It was only this morning that I was 
able to place the facts before her and make her accept my explana- 
tion. Meanwhile, I had completely forgotten ihe Stephanie- 
stooping-picking“Up incident. I think it is obvious that the book is 
now in the possession of this Byng.” 

“It must be.” 

“Then everything’s all right. We just seek her out and ask her 
to hand it back, and she does so. I expect she will have got a good 
laugh out of it.” 

“Where is she?” 

“I seem to remember her saying something about walking down 
to the village. I think she goes and hobnobs with the curate. If 
you’re not doing anything, you might stroll and meet her.” 

“I will.” 

“Well, keep an eye open for that Scottie of hers. It probably 
accompanied her.” 

“Oh, yes. Thanks.” 

I remembered that he had spoken to me of this animal at my 
dinner. Indeed, at the moment when the sole meuniere was being 
served, he had shown me the sore place on his leg, causing me to 
skip that course. 

“It biteth like a serpent.” 

“Right ho. I’ll be looking out. And I might as well start at once.” 

It did not take me long to get to the end of the drive. At the 
gates, I paused. It seemed to me that my best plan would be to 
linger here until Stiffy returned. I lighted a cigarette, and gave 
myself up to meditation. 

Although slightly easier in the mind than I had been, I was 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


63 


still much shaken. Until that book was back in safe storage, there 
could be no real peace for the Wooster soul. Too much depended 
on its recovery. As I had said to Gussie, if old Bassett started 
doing the heavy father and forbidding banns, there wasn't a 
chance of Madeline sticking out her chin and riposting with a 
modern “Is zat so ?” A glance at her was enough to tell one that 
she belonged to that small group of girls who still think a parent 
should have something to say about things: and I was willing to 
give a hundred to eight that, in the circumstances which I had 
outlined, she would sigh and drop a silent tear, but that when all 
the smoke had cleared away Gussie would be at liberty. 

I was still musing in sombre and apprehensive vein, when my 
meditations were interrupted. A human drama was developing in 
the road in front of me. 

The shades of evening were beginning to fall pretty freely by 
now, but the visibility was still good enough to enable me to 
observe that up the road there was approaching a large, stout, 
moon-faced policeman on a bicycle. And he was, one could see, 
at peace with all the world. His daily round of tasks may or may 
not have been completed, but he was obviously off duty for the 
moment, and his whole attitude was that of a policeman with 
nothing on his mind but his helmet. 

Well, when I tell you that he was riding without his hands, you 
will gather to what lengths the careless gaiety of this serene slop 
had spread. 

And where the drama came in was that it was patent that his 
attention had not yet been drawn to the fact that he was being 
chivvied — ^in the strong, silent, earnest manner characteristic of 
this breed of animal — by a fine Aberdeen terrier. There he was, 
riding comfortably along, sniffing the fragrant evening breeze; 
and there was the Scottie, all whiskers and eyebrows, hareing after 
him hell-for-leather. As Jeeves said later, when I described the 
scene to him, the whole situation resembled some great moment 
in a Greek tragedy, where somebody is s _ _ _ wide and 

handsome, quite unconscious that all the whSle Nemesis is at his 
heels, and he may be right. 

The constable, I say, was riding without his hands : and but for 
this the disaster, when it occurred, might not have been so 
complete. I was a bit of a cyclist myself in my youth — I think I 
have mentioned that I once won a choir boys' handicap at some 



64 


THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


village sports — and I can testify that when you are riding without 
your hands, privacy and a complete freedom from interruption are 
of the essence. The merest suggestion of an unexpected Scottie 
connecting with the ankle-bone at such a time, and you swoop into 
a sudden swerve. And, as everybody knows, if the hands are not 
firmly on the handlebars, a sudden swerve spells a smeller. 

And so it happened now. A smeller — and among the finest I 
have ever been privileged to witness — was what this ofBcer of the 
law came. One moment he was with us, all merry and bright; the 
next he was in the ditch, a sort of macedoine of arms and legs and 
wheels, with the terrier standing on the edge, looking dov/n at him 
with that rather offensive expression of virtuous smugness which I 
have often noticed on the faces of Aberdeen terriers in their 
clashes with humanity. 

And as he threshed about in the ditch, endeavouring to un- 
scramble himself, a girl came round the corner, an attractive 
young prune upholstered in heather-mixture tweeds, and I 
recognized the familiar features of S. Byng. 

After what Gussie had said, I ought to have been expecting 
Stiffy, of course. Seeing an Aberdeen terrier, I should have 
gathered that it belonged to her. I might have said to myself: If 
Scotties come, can Stiffy be far behind ? 

Stiffy was plainly vexed with the policeman. You could see it in 
her manner. She hooked the crook of her stick over the Scottie^s 
collar and drew him back; then addressed herself to the man, who 
had now begun to emerge from the ditch like Venus rising from 
the foam. 

“What on earth,” she demanded, “did you do that for ?” 

It was no business of mine, of course, but I couldn’t help feeling 
that she might have made a more tactful approach to what threat- 
ened to be a dijSicult and delicate conference. And I could see that 
the policeman felt the same. There was a good deal of mud on his 
face, but not enough to hide the wounded expression. 

“You might have scared him out of his wits, hurling yourself 
about like &at. Poor old Bartholomew, did the ugly man nearly 
squash him flat?” 

Again I missed the tactful note. In describing this public 
servant as ugly, she was undoubtedly technically correct. Only if 
the competition had consisted of Sir Watkyn Bassett, Oofy 
Prosser of the Drones, and a few more fellows like that, could he 
have hoped to win to success in a beauty contest. But one doesn’t 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 65 

want to rub these things in. Suavity is what you need on these 
occasions. You can’t beat suavity. 

The policeman had now lifted himself and bicycle out of the 
abyss, and was putting the latter through a series of tests, to 
ascertain the extent of the damage. Satisfied that it was slight, he 
turned and eyed Stifiy rather as old Bassett had eyed me on the 
occasion when I had occupied the Bosher Street dock. 

"T was proceeding along the public highway,” he began, in a 
slow, measured tone, as if he were giving evidence in court, ‘‘'and 
the dorg leaped at me in a verlent manner. I was zurled from my 
bersicle ” 

Stiffy seized upon the point like a practised debater. 

“Well, you shouldn’t ride a bicycle. Bartholomew hates 
bicycles.” 

“I ride a bersicle, miss, because if I didn’t I should have to 
cover my beat on foot.” 

“Do you good. Get some of the fat off you.” 

“That,” said the policeman, no mean debater himself, pro- 
ducing a notebook from the recesses of his costume and blowing a 
water-beetle off it, “is not the point at tissue. The point at tissue is 
that this makes twice that the animal has committed an aggravated 
assault on my person, and I shall have to summons you once 
more, miss, for being in possession of a savage dorg not under 
proper control.” 

The thrust was a keen one, but Stifiy came back strongly. 

“Don’t be an ass, Oates. You can’t expect a dog to pass up a 
policeman on a bicycle. It isn’t human nature. And I’ll bet you 
started it, anyway. You must have teased him, or something, and 
I may as well tell you that I intend to fight this case to the House 
of Lords. I shall call this gentleman as a material witness.” She 
turned to me, and for the first time became aware that I was no 
gentleman, but an old friend. “Oh, hullo, Bertie.” 

“Hullo, Stifiy.” 

“When did you get here ?” 

“Oh, recently.” 

“Did you see what happened?” 

“Oh, rather. Ringside seat throughout.” 

“WeU, stand by to be subpoenaed.” 

“Right ho.” 

The policeman had been taking a sort of inventory and writing 
it down in the book. He was now in a position to call the score. 



66 THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 

“Piecer skin scraped off right knee. Bruise or contusion on left 
elbow. Scratch on nose. Uniform covered with mud and’ll have to 
go and be cleaned. Also shock — severe. You will receive the 
summons in due course, miss.” 

He mounted his bicycle and rode off, causing the dog Bartholo- 
mew to make a passionate bound that nearly unshipped him ftom 
the restraining stick. Stiffy stood for a moment looking after him 
a bit yearningly, like a girl who wished that she had half a brick 
handy. Then she turned away, and I came straight down to brass 
tacks. 

“Stifiy,” I said, “passing lightly over all the guff about being 
charmed to see you again and how well you’re looking and all that, 
have you got a small, brown, leather-covered notebook that 
Gussie Fink-Nottle dropped in the stable yard yesterday?” 

She did not reply, seeming to be musing — ^no doubt on the 
recent Oates. I repeated the question, and she came out of the 
trance. 

“Notebook?” 

“Small, brown, leather-covered, one.” 

“Full of a lot of breezy personal remarks ?” 

“That’s the one.” 

“Yes, I’ve got it.” 

I flung the hands heavenwards and uttered a joyful yowl. The 
dog Bartholomew gave me an unpleasant look and said something 
under his breath in Gaelic, but I ignored him. A kennel of 
Aberdeen terriers could have rolled their eyes and bared the 
wisdom tooth without impairing this ecstatic moment. 

“Gosh, what a relief!” 

“Does it belong to Gussie Fink-Nottle ?” 

“Yes.” 

“You mean to say that it was Gussie who wrote those really 
excellent character studies of Roderick Spode and Uncle Watkyn ? 
I wouldn’t have thought he had it in him.” 

“Nobody would. It’s a most interesting story. It appears ” 

“Though why anyone should waste time on Spode and Uncle 
Watkyn when there was Oates simply crying out to be written 
about, I can’t imagine. I don’t think I have ever met a man, 
Bertie, who gets in the hair so consistently as this Eustace Oates. 
He m^es me tired. He goes swanking about on that bicycle of his, 
simply asking for it, and then complains when he gets it. And why 
should he discriminate against poor Bartholomew in this sickening 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 67 

way ? Every red-blooded dog in the village has had a go at his 
trousers, and he knows it.” 

“Where’s that book, Stifiy ?” I said, returning to the res. 

“Never mind about books. Let’s stick to Eustace Oates. Do 
you think he means to summons me ?” 

I said that, reading between the lines, that was rather the 
impression I had gathered, and she made what I believe is known 
as a moue. ... Is it moue ? . . . Shoving out the lips, I mean, and 
drawing them quickly back again. 

“I’m afraid so, too. There is only one word for Eustace Oates, 
and that is 'malignant’. He just goes about seeking whom he may 
devour. Oh, weU, more work for Uncle Watkyn.” 

“How do you mean ?” 

“I shall come up before him.” 

“Then he does still operate, even though retired?” I said, 
remembering with some uneasiness the conversation between this 
ex-beak and Roderick Spode in the collection-room. 

“He only retired from Bosher Street. You can’t choke a man off 
magistrating, once it’s in his blood. He’s a Justice of the Peace 
now. He holds a sort of Star Chamber court in the library. That’s 
where I always come up. I’ll be flitting about, doing the flowers, 
or sitting in my room with a good book, and the butler comes and 
says I’m wanted in the library. And there’s Uncle Watkyn at the 
desk, looking like Judge Jeffreys, with Oates waiting to give 
evidence.” 

I could picture the scene. Unpleasant, of course. The sort of 
thing that casts a gloom over a girl’s home life. 

“And it always ends the same way, with him putting on the 
black cap and soaking me. He never listens to a word I say. I 
don’t believe the man imderstands the A B C of justice.” 

“That’s how he struck me, when I attended his tribunal.” 

“And the worst of it is, he knows just what my allowance is, so 
can figure out exactly how much the purse will stand. Twice this 
year he’s skinned me to the bone, each time at the instigation of 
this man Oates — once for exceeding the speed limit in a built-up 
area, and once because Bartholomew gave him the teeniest little 
nip on the ankle.” 

I tut-tutted sympathetically, but I was wishing that I could 
edge the conversation back to that notebook. One so frequently 
finds in girls a disinclination to stick to the important subject. 

“The way Oates went on about it, you would have thought 



68 


THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


Bartholomew had taken his pornid of flesh. And I suppose it's 
all going to happen again now. I'm fed up with this police 
persecution. One might as well be in Russia. Don't you loathe 
policemen^ Bertie?" 

I was not prepared to go quite so far as this in my attitude 
towards an, on the whole, excellent body of men. 

“Well, not en masse:, if you understand the expression. I 
suppose they vary, like other sections of the community, some 
being full of quiet charm, others not so full. I've met some very 
decent policemen. With the one on duty outside the Drones I am 
distincdy chummy. In re this Oates of yours, I haven’t seen 
enough of him, of course, to form an opinion.” 

“Well, you can take it from me that he's one of the worst. And a 
bitter retribution awaits him. Do you remember the time you 
gave me lunch at your flat ? You were telling me about how you 
tried to pinch that policeman's helmet in Leicester Square.” 

“That was when I first met your uncle. It was that that 
brought us together.” 

“Well, I didn't think much of it at the time, but the other day it 
suddenly came back to me, and I said to myself: ‘Out of the 
mouths of babes and sucklings!' For months I had been trying to 
think of a way of getting back at this man Oates, and you had 
showed it to me.” 

I started. It seemed to me that her words could bear but one 
interpretation. 

“You aren’t going to pinch his helmet ?” 

“Of course not.” 

“I think you're wise.” 

“It's man's work. I can see that. So I’ve told Harold to do it. He 
has often said he would do anything in the world for me, bless 
him.” 

Stifiy's map, as a rule, tends to be rather grave and dreamy, 
giving the impression that she is thinking deep, beautiful thoughts. 
Quite mislea^ng, of course. I don't suppose she would recognize 
a deep, beautiful thought, if you handed it to her on a skewer 
with tartare sauce. Like Jeeves, she doesn't often smile, but now 
her lips had parted — ecstatically, I think — I should have to 
check up with Jeeves — and her eyes were sparkling. 

“What a man!” she said. “We’re engaged, you know.” 

“Oh, are you ?” 

“Yes, but don’t tell a soul. It’s frightfully secret. Uncle 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


69 


Watkyn mustn’t know about it till he has been well sweetened.” 

“And who is this Harold ?” 

“The curate down in the village.” She turned to the dog 
Bartholomew. “Is lovely kind curate going to pinch bad, ugly 
policeman’s helmet for his muzzer, zen, and make her very, very 
happy ?” she said. 

Or words to that general trend. I can’t do the dialect, of course. 

I stared at the yoimg pill, appalled at her moral code, if you 
could call it that. You know, the more I see of women, the more I 
think that there ought to be a law. Something has got to be done 
about this sex, or fiie whole fabric of Society wdll collapse, and 
then what silly asses we shall all look. 

“Curate?” I said. “But, StijSy, you can’t ask a curate to go 
about pinching policemen’s helmets.” 

“Why not?” 

“Weil, it’s most unusual. You’ll get the poor bird unfrocked.” 

“Unfrocked ?” 

“It’s something they do to parsons when they catch them 
bending. And this will inevitably be the outcome of the frightful 
task you have apportioned to the sainted Harold.” 

“I don’t see ^at it’s a frightful task.” 

“You aren’t telling me that it’s the sort of thing that comes 
naturally to curates ?” 

“Yes, I am. It ought to be right up Harold’s street. When he 
was at Magdalen, before he saw the light, he was the dickens of a 
chap. Always doing things like that.” 

Her mention of Magdalen interested me. It had been my own 
college. 

“Magdalen man, is he ? What year ? Perhaps I know him.” 

“Of course you do. He often speaks of you, and was delighted 
when I told him you were coming here. Harold Pinker.” 

I was astounded. 

“Harold Pinker ? Old Stinker Pinker? Great Scott! One of my 
dearest pals. I’ve often wondered where he had got to. And all the 
while he had sneaked off and become a curate. It just shows you 
how true it is that one-half of the world doesn’t know how the 
other three-quarters lives. Stinker Pinker, by Jove! You really 
mean that old Stinker now cures souls?” 

“Certainly. And jolly well, too. The nibs think very highly of 
him. Any moment now, he may get a vicarage, and then watch his 
smoke. He’ll be a Bishop some day.” 



70 


THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


The excitement of discovering a long-lost buddy waned. I 
found myself returning to the practical issues. I became grave. 

And ril tell you why I became grave. It was all very well for 
Stifiy to say that this thing would be right up old Stinker's street. 
She didn’t know him as I did. I had watched Harold Pinker 
through the formative years of his life, and I knew him for what 
he was — a large, lumbering, Newfoundland puppy of a chap- 
full of zeal, yes — always doing his best, true; but never quite able 
to make the grade; a man, in short, who if there was a chance of 
bungling an enterprise and landing himself in the soup, would 
snatch at it. At the idea of him being turned on to perform the 
extraordinarily delicate task of swiping Constable Oates’s hehnet, 
the blood froze. He hadn’t a chance of getting away with it. 

I thought of Stinker, the youth. Built rather on the lines of 
Roderick Spode, he had played Rugby football not only for his 
University but also for England, and at the art of hurling an 
opponent into a mud puddle and jumping on his neck with 
cleared boots had had few, if any, superiors- If I had wanted 
someone to help me out with a mad bull, he would have been my 
first choice. If by some mischance I had found myself trapped in 
the underground den of the Secret Nine, there was nobody I 
would rather have seen coming down the chimney than the Rev. 
Harold Pinker. 

But mere thews and sinews do not qualify a man to pinch 
policemen’s helmets. You need finesse. 

“He will, will he ?” I said. “A fat lot of bishing he’s going to do, 
if he’s caught sneaking helmets from members of his flock.” 

“He won’t be caught.” 

“Of course he’ll be caught. At the old Alma Mater he was 
always caught. He seemed to have no notion whatsoever of going 
about a thing in a subtle, tactful way. Chuck it, Stiffy. Abandon 
the whole project.” 

“No.” 

“Stiffy!” 

“No. The show must go on.” 

I gave it up. I could see plainly that it would be mere waste of 
time to try to argue her out of her girlish daydreams. She had the 
same type of mind, I perceived, as Roberta Wickham, who once 
persuaded me to go by night to the bedroom of a fellow guest at a 
country house and puncture his hot-water bottle with a darning- 
needle on the end of a stick. 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


71 


‘‘Well, if it must be, it must be, I suppose,” I said resignedly. 
“But at least impress upon him that it is essential, when pinching 
policemen's helmets, to give a forward shove before applying the 
upwards lift. Otherwise, the subject’s chin catches in the strap. It 
was to overlooking this vital point that my own downfall in 
Leicester Square was due. The strap caught, the cop was enabled 
to turn and clutch, and before I knew what had happened I was 
in the dock, saying ‘Yes, your Honour’ and ‘No, your Honour’ to 
your Uncle Watkyn.” 

I fell into a thoughtful silence, as I brooded on the dark future 
lying in wait for an old friend. I am not a weak man, but I was 
beginnmg to wonder if I had been right in squelching so curtly 
Jeeves’s efforts to get me off on a Round-The-World cruise. What- 
ever you may say against these excursions — ^the cramped con- 
ditions of shipboard, the possibility of getting mixed up with a 
crowd of bores, the nuisance of having to go and look at the Taj 
Mahal — at least there is this to be said in their favour, that you 
escape the mental agony of watching innocent curates dishing 
their careers and forfeiting all chance of rising to great heights in 
the Church by getting caught bonneting their parishioners. 

I heaved a sigh, and resumed the conversation. 

“So you and Stinker are engaged, are you ? Why didn’t you 
tell me when you lunched at Ae fiat ?” 

“It hadn’t happened then. Oh, Bertie, I’m so happy I could bite 
a grape. At least, I shall be, if we can get Uncle Watkyn thinking 
along ‘Bless you, my chil^en’ lines.” 

“Oh, yes, you were saying, weren’t you? About him being 
sweetened. How do you mean, sweetened ?” 

“That’s what I want to have a talk with you about. You 
remember what I said in my telegram, about there being some- 
thing I wanted you to do for me ?” 

I started. A well-defined uneasiness crept over me. I had for- 
gotten all about that telegram of hers. 

“It’s something quite simple.” 

I doubted it. I mean to say, if her idea of a suitable job for 
curates was the pinching of policemen’s helmets, what sort of an 
assignment, I could not but ask myself, was she likely to hand to 
me ? It seemed that the moment had come for a bit of in-the-bud- 
nipping. 

“Oh, yes ?” I said. “Well, let me tell you here and now that I’m 
jolly well not going to do it.” 



72 


THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


“YeUow, eh?» 

“Bright yellow. Like my Aunt Agatha.” 

“What’s the matter with her ?” 

“She’s got jaundice.” 

“Enou^ to give her jaundice, having a nephew like you. Why, 
you don’t even know what it is.” 

“I would prefer not to know.” 

“Well, I’m going to tell you.” 

“I do not wish to listen.” 

“You would rather I unleashed Bartholomew ? I notice he has 
been looking at you in that odd way of his. I don’t believe he h'lfps 
you. He does take sudden dislikes to people.” 

The Woosters are brave, but not rash. I allowed her to lead me 
to the stone wall that bordered the terrace, and we sat down. The 
evening, I remember, was one of perfect tranquillity, featuring a 
sort of serene peace. Which just shows you. 

“I won’t keep you long,” she said. “It’s all quite simple and 
straightforward. I shall have to begin, though, by telling you why 
we have had to be so dark and secret about the engagement. 
That’s Gussie’s fault.” 

“What has he done ?” 

“Just been Gussie, that’s all. Just gone about with no chin, 
goggling through his spectacles and keeping newts in his bedroom. 
You can understand Uncle Watkyn’s feelings. His daughter tells 
him she is going to get married. ‘Oh, yes ?’ he says. ‘Well, let’s 
have a dekko at the chap.’ And along rolls Gussie. A nasty jar for 
a father.” 

“Quite.” 

“Well, you can’t tell me that a time when he is reeling under the 
blow of having Gussie for a son-in-law is the moment for breaking 
it to him that I want to marry the curate.” 

I saw her point. I recollected Freddie Threepwood telling me 
that there had been trouble at Blandings about a cousin of his 
wanting to marry a curate. In that case, I gathered, the strain had 
been eased by the discovery that the feUow was the heir of a 
well-to-do Liverpool shipping millionaire; but, as a broad, 
general rule, parents do not like their daughters marrying curates, 
and I take it that the same thing applies to uncles with their nieces. 

“You’ve got to face it. Curates are not so hot. So before anything 
can be done in the way of removing the veil of secrecy, we have got 
to sell Harold to Uncle Watkyn. If we play our cards properly, I 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 73 

am hoping that he will ^ve him a vicarage which he has in his 
gift. Then we shall begin to get somewhere.’" 

I didn’t like her use of the word ‘‘we”^ but I saw what she was 
driving at^ and I was sorry to have to insert a spanner in her hopes 
and dreams. 

“You wish me to put in a word for Stinker ? You would like me 
to draw your uncle aside and tell him v/hat a splendid fellow 
Stinker is ? There is nothing I would enjoy more^ my dear Stiffy, 
but unfortunately we are not on those terms.” 

“Noj noa nothing like that.” 

“Well, I don’t see what more I can do.” 

“You will,” she said, and again I was conscious of that subtle 
feeling of uneasiness. I told myself that I must be firm. But I 
could not but remember Roberta Wickham and the hot-water 
bottle. A man thinks he is being chilled steel — or adamant, if 
you prefer the expression— and suddenly the mists clear away and 
he finds that he has allowed a girl to talk him into something 
frightful. Samson had the same experience with Delilah. 

“Oh ?” I said, guardedly. 

She paused in order to tickle the dog Bartholomew under the 
left ear. Then she resumed. 

“Just praising Harold to Uncle Watkyn isn’t any use. You need 
something much cleverer than that. You want to engineer some 
terrifically brainy scheme that will put him over wifti a bang. I 
thought I had got it a few days ago. Do you ever read Milady^ s 
Boudoir ?” 

“I once contributed an article to it on 'What The Well-Dressed 
Man Is Wearing’, but I am not a regular reader. Why ?” 

“There was a story in it last week about a Duke who wouldn’t 
let his daughter marry the young secretary, so the secretary got a 
friend of his to take the Duke out on the lake and upset the boat, 
and then he dived in and saved the Duke, and the Duke said 
'Right ho’.” 

I resolved that no time should be lost in quashing this idea. 

“Any notion you may have entertained that I am going to take 
Sir W. Bassett out in a boat and upset him can be dismissed 
instanter. To start with, he wouldn’t come out on a lake with me.” 

“No. And we haven’t a lake. And Harold said that if I was 
thinking of the pond in the village, I could forget it, as it was 
much too cold to dive into ponds at this time of year. Harold is 
funny in some ways.” 



74 


THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


“I applaud his sturdy common sense.” 

“Then I got an idea from another story. It was about a young 
lover who gets a friend of his to dress up as a tramp and attack 
the girl’s father, and then he dashes in and rescues him.” 

I patted her hand gently. 

“The flaw in aU these ideas of yours,” I pointed out, “is that the 
hero always seems to have a half-witted friend who is eager to 
place himself in the foulest positions on his behalf. In Stinker’s 
case, this is not so. I am fond of Stinker — ^you could even go so 
far as to say that I love him like a brother — ^but there are sharply 
defined limits to what I am prepared to do to further his interests.” 

“Well, it doesn’t matter, because he put the presidential veto 
on that one, too. Something about what the vicar would say if it 
all came out. But he loves my new one.” 

“Oh, you’ve got a new one?” 

“Yes, and it’s terrific. The beauty of it is that Harold’s part in it 
is above reproach. A thousand vicars couldn’t get the goods on 
him. The only snag was that he has to have someone working 
with him, and until I heard you were coming down here I couldn’t 
think who we were to get. But now you have arrived, all is well.” 

“It is, is it ? I informed you before, young Byng, and I now 
inform you again that nothing will induce me to mix myself up 
with your loathsome schemes.” 

“Oh, but, Bertie, you must! We’re relying on you. And all you 
have to do is practically nothing. Just steal Uncle Watkyn’s cow- 
creamer.” 

I don’t know what you would have done, if a girl in heather- 
mixture tweeds had sprung this on you, scarcely eight hours after 
a mauve-faced aunt had sprung the same. It is possible that you 
would have reeled. Most chaps would, I imagine. Personally, I 
was more amused than aghast. Indeed, if memory serves me 
aright, I laughed. If so, it was just as well, for it was about the last 
chance I had. 

“Oh, yes ?” I said. “Tell me more,” I said, feeling that it would 
be entertaining to allow the little blighter to run on. “Steal his 
cow-creamer, eh?” 

“Yes. It’s a thing he brought back from London yesterday for 
his collection. A sort of silver cow with a kind of blotto look on its 
face. He thinks the world of it. He had it on the table in front of 
him at dinner last night, and was gassing away about it. And it 
was then that I got the idea. I thought that if Harold could pinch 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


75 


it, and then bring it back. Uncle Watkyn would be so grateful 
that he would start spouting vicarages l&e a geyser. And then I 
spotted the catch.” 

“Oh, there was a catch ?” 

“Of course. Don’t you see ? How would Harold be supposed to 
have got the thing ? If a silver cow is in somebody’s collection, 
and it disappears, and next day a curate rolls round with it, that 
curate has got to do some good, quick explaining. Obviously, 
it must be made to look like an outside job.” 

“I see. You want me to put on a black mask and break in 
through the window and snitch this objet d’art and hand it over 
to Stinker? I see. I see.” 

I spoke with satirical bitterness, and I should have thought that 
anyone could have seen that satirical bitterness was what I was 
speaking with, but she merely looked at me with a dmir ation and 
approvd. 

“You are clever, Bertie. That’s exactly it. Of course, you 
needn’t wear a mask.” 

“You don’t think it would help me throw myself into the part ?” 
I said with s. b., as before. 

“Well, it might. That’s up to you. But the great t hing is to get 
through the window. Wear gloves, of course, because of die 
fingerprints.” 

“Of course.” 

“Then Harold will be waiting outside, and he will take the 
thing from you.” 

“And after that I go off and do my stretch at Dartmoor ?” 

“Oh, no. You escape in the struggle, of course.” 

“What struggle?” 

“And Harold rushes into the house, all over blood ” 

“Whose blood?” 

“Well, I said yours, and Harold thought his. There have got to 
be signs of a struggle, to make it more interesting, and my idea 
was that he should hit you on the nose. But he said the thing 
would carry greater weight if he was all covered with gore. So 
how we’ve left it is that you both hit each other on the nose. And 
then Harold rouses the house and comes in and shows Uncle 
Watkyn the cow-creamer and explains what happened, and 
everything’s fine. Because, I mean. Uncle Watkyn couldn’t just 
say ‘Oh, thanks’ and leave it at that, could he? He would be 
compelled, if he had a spark of decency in him, to cough up that 



76 THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 

vicarage. Don’t you think it’s a wonderful scheme, Bertie ?” 

I rose. My face was cold and hard. 

^"Most. But I’m sorry ” 

“You don’t mean you won’t do it, now that you see that it will 
cause you practically no inconvenience at all ? It would only take 
about ten minutes of your time.” 

“I do mean I won’t do it.” 

“Well, I think you’re a pig.” 

“A pig, maybe, but a sturewd, levelheaded pig. I wouldn’t 
touch the project with a bargepole. I tell you I know Stinker. 
Exactly how he would muck the thing up and get us all landed in 
the jug, I cannot say, but he would find a way. And now I’ll take 
that book, if you don’t mind.” 

“What book? Oh, that one of Gussie’s.” 

“Yes.” 

“What do you want it for ?” 

“I want it,” I said gravely, “because Gussie is not fit to be in 
charge of it. He might lose it again, in which event it might fall 
into the hands of your uncle, in which event he would certainly 
kick the stuffing out of the Gussie-Madeline wedding arrange- 
ments, in which event I would be up against it as few men have 
ever been up against it before.” 

“You?” 

“None other.” 

“How do you come into it ?” 

“I will tell you.” 

And in a few terse words I outlined for her the events which 
had taken place at Brinkley Court, the situation which had arisen 
from those events and the hideous peril which threatened me if 
Gussie’s entry were to be scratched. 

“You will understand,” I said, “that I am implying nothing 
derogatory to your cousin Madeline, when I say Aat the idea of 
being united to her in the bonds of holy wedlock is one that 
freezes the gizzard. The fact is in no way to her discredit. I should 
feel just the same about marrying many of the world’s noblest 
women. There are certain females whom one respects, admires, 
reveres, but only from a distance. If they show any signs of 
attempting to come closer, one is prepared to fight them off with a 
blackjack. It is to this group that your cousin Madeline belongs. 
A charming girl, and the ideal mate for Augustus Fink-Notde, 
but ants in the pants to Bertram.” 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


77 


She drank this in. 

‘‘I see. Yes, I suppose Madeline is a bit of a Gawd-help-us.” 

“The expression ‘Gawd-help-us’ is one which I woidd not 
have gone so far as to use myself, for I think a chivalrous man 
ought to stop somewhere. But since you have brought it up, I 
admit that it covers the facts.” 

“I never realized that that was how things were. No wonder 
you want that book.” 

“Exactly.” 

“Well, all this has opened up a new line of thought.” 

That grave, dreamy look had come into her face. She massaged 
the dog Bartholomew’s spine with a pensive foot. 

“Come on,” I said, chafing at the delay. “Slip it across.” 

“Just a moment. I’m trying to straighten it all out in my mind. 
You know, Bertie, I really ought to take that book to Uncle 
Watkyn.” 

“What!” 

“That’s what my conscience tells me to do. After all, I owe a 
lot to him. For years he has been a second father to me. And he 
ought to know how Gussie feels about him, oughtn’t he ? I mean 
to say, a bit tough on the old buster, cherishing what he thinks is a 
harmless newt-fancier in his bosom, when all the time it’s a snake 
that goes about criticizing the way he drinks soup. However, as 
you’re being so sweet and are going to help Harold and me by 
stealing that cow-creamer, I suppose I shall have to stretch a 
point.” 

We Woosters are pretty quick. I don’t suppose it was more than 
a couple of minutes before I figured out what she meant. I read 
her purpose, and shuddered. 

She was naming the Price of the Papers. In other words, 
after being blackmailed by an aunt at breakfast, I was now being 
blackmailed by a female crony before dinner. Pretty good going, 
even for this lax post-war world. 

“Stiffy!” I cried. 

“It’s no good saying *Stiffy!’ Either you sit in and do your bit, 
or Uncle Watkyn gets some racy light reading over his morning 
egg and coffee. Think it over, Bertie.” 

She hoisted the dog Bartholomew to his feet, and trickled off 
towards the house. The last I saw of her was a meaning look, 
directed at me over her shoulder, and it went through me like a 
knife. 



78 


THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


I had slumped back on to the wall^ and I sat there, stunned. 
Just how long, I don’t know, but it was a goodish time. Winged 
creatures of the night barged into me, but I gave them little 
attention. It was not till a voice suddenly spoke a couple of feet 
or so above my bowed head that I came out of the coma. 

‘'Good evening, Wooster,” said the voice. 

I looked up. The cliif-like mass looming over me was Roderick 
Spode. 

I suppose even Dictators have their chummy moments, when 
they put their feet up and relax with the boys, but it was plain 
from the outset that if Roderick Spode had a sunnier side, he had 
not come with any idea of exhibiting it now. His manner was 
curt. One sensed the absence of the bonhomous note. 

'T should like a word with you, Wooster.” 

“Oh, yes?” 

“I have been talking to Sir Watkyn Bassett, and he has told 
me the whole story of the cow-creamer.” 

“Oh, yes ?” 

“And we know why you are here.” 

“Oh, yes ?” 

“Stop saying ‘Oh, yes ?’ you miserable worm, and listen to me.” 

Many chaps might have resented his tone. I did myself, as a 
matter of fact. But you know how it is. There are some fellows 
you are right on your toes to tick oflF when they call you a miserable 
worm, others not quite so much. 

“Oh, yes,” he said, saying it himself, dash it, “it is perfectly 
plain to us why you are here. You have been sent by your uncle 
to steal this cow-creamer for him. You needn’t trouble to deny it. 
I found you with the thing in your hands this afternoon. And now, 
we learn, your aunt is arriving. The muster of the vultures, ha!” 

He paused a moment, then repeated “The muster of the 
vultures,” as if he thought pretty highly of it as a gag. I couldn’t 
see that it was so very hot myself. 

“Well, what I came to tell you, Wooster, was that you are being 
watched — ^watched closely. And if you are caught stealing that 
cow-creamer, I can assure you that you will go to prison. You 
need entertain no hope that Sir Watkyn will shrink from creating 
a scandal. He will do his duty as a citizen and a Justice of the 
Peace.” 

Here he laid a hand upon my shoulder, and I can’t remember 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


79 


when I have experienced anything more unpleasant. Apart from 
what Jeeves would have called the symbolism of the action, he 
had a grip like the bite of a horse. 

“Did you say "Oh, yes ?’ he asked. 

"‘Oh, no,” I assured him. 

“Good. Now, what you are saying to yourself, no doubt, is that 
you will not be caught. You imagine that you and this precious 
aunt of yours will be clever enough between you to steal die cow- 
creamer without being detected- It will do you no good, Wooster. 
If the thing disappears, however cunningly you and your female 
accomplice may have covered your traces, I shall know where it 
has gone, and I shall immediately beat you to a jelly. To a jelly,” 
he repeated, rolling the words round his tongue as if they were 
vintage port. “Have you got that clear?” 

“Oh, quite.” 

“You are sure you understand?” 

“Oh, definitely.” 

“Splendid.” 

A dim figure was approaching across the terrace, and he 
changed his tone to one of a rather sickening geniality. 

“What a lovely evening, is it not ? Extraordinarily mild for the 
time of year. Well, I mustn’t keep you any longer. You will be 
wanting to go and dress for dinner. Just a black tie. We are quite 
informal here. Yes?” 

The word was addressed to the dim figure. A familiar cough 
revealed its identity. 

“I wished to speak to Mr. Wooster, sir. I have a message for 
him from Mrs. Travers. Mrs. Travers presents her compliments, 
sir, and desires me to say that she is in the Blue Room and would be 
glad if you could make it convenient to call upon her there as 
soon as possible. She has a matter of importance which she 
wishes to discuss.” 

I heard Spode snort in the darkness. 

“So Mrs. Travers has arrived?” 

“Yes, sir.” 

“And has a matter of importance to discuss with Mr. Wooster ?” 

“Yes, sir.” 

“Ha!” said Spode, and biffed off with a short, sharp laugh. 

I rose from my seat. 

“Jeeves,” I said, “stand by to counsel and advise. The plot has 
thickened.” 



* 5 * 


I SLID into the shirty and donned the knee-length underwear. 
“Well, Jeeves/’ I said, “how about it?” 

During the walk to the house I had placed him in possession of 
the latest developments, and had left him to turn them over in his 
mind with a view to finding a formula, while I went along the 
passage and took a hasty ba&. I now gazed at him hopefully, like 
a seal awaiting a bit of fish. 

“Thought of anything, Jeeves ?” 

“Not yet, sir, I regret to say.” 

“What, no results whatever ?” 

“None, sir, I fear.” 

I groaned a hollow one, and shoved on the trousers. I had 
become so accustomed to having this gifted man weigh in with the 
ripest ideas at the drop of the hat that the possibility of his failing 
to deliver on tliis occasion had not occurred to me. The blow was 
a severe one, and it was with a quivering hand that I now socked 
the feet. A strange frozen sensation had come over me, rendering 
the physical and mental processes below par. It was as though both 
limbs and bean had been placed in a refrigerator and overlooked 
for several days. 

“It may be, Jeeves,” I said, a thought occurring, “that you 
haven’t got the whole scenario clear in your mind. I was able to 
give you only the merest outline before going off to scour the 
torso. I think it would help if we did what they do in the thrillers. 
Do you ever read thrillers ?” 

“Not very frequently, sir.” 

“Well, there’s always a bit where the detective, in order to 
clarify his thoughts, writes down a list of suspects, motives, times 
when, aUbis, clues and what not. Let us try tihis plan. Take 
pencil and paper, Jeeves, and vre will assemble the facts. Entitle 
the thing "Wooster, B. — ^position of.’ Ready?” 

“Yes, sir.” 

“Right. Now, then. Item One — ^Aunt Dahlia says that if I 
don’t pinch that cow-creamer and hand it over to her, she will 

SO 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


81 


bar me from her table^ and no more of Anatole’s cooking,” 

“Yes^ sir,” 

“We now come to Item Two — ^viz., if I do pinch the cow- 
creamer and hand it over to her, Spode will beat me to a jelly.” 

“Yes, sir.” 

“Furthermore — Item Three — ^if I pinch it and hand it over to 
her and don’t pinch it and hand it over to Harold Pinker, not only 
shall I xmdergo the jellying process alluded to above, but Stiffy 
will take that notebook of Gussie’s and hand it over to Sir 
Watkyn Bassett, And you know and I know what the result of that 
would be. Well, there you are. That’s the set-up. You’ve got it ?” 

“Yes, sir. It is certainly a somewhat unfortunate state of 
affairs.” 

I gave him one of my looks. 

“Jeeves,” I said, “don’t try me too high. Not at a moment like 
this. Somewhat unfortunate, forsooth! Who was it you were 
telling me about the other day, on whose head all the sorrows of 
the world had come?” 

“The Mona Lisa, sir.” 

“Well, if I met the Mona Lisa at this moment, I would shake 
her by the hand and assure her that I knew just how she felt. You 
see before you, Jeeves, a toad beneath the harrow.” 

“Yes, sir. The trousers perhaps a quarter of an inch higher, sir. 
One aims at the carelessly graceful break over the instep. It is a 
matter of the nicest adjustment.” 

“Like that?” 

“Admirable, sir.” 

I sighed. 

“There are moments, Jeeves, when one asks oneself ‘Do 
trousers matter?’.” 

“The mood will pass, sir.” 

“I don’t see why it should. If you can’t think of a way out of 
this mess, it seems to me that it is the end. Of course,” I proceeded 
on a somewhat brighter note, “you haven’t really had time to get 
your teeth into the problem yet. While I am at dinner, examine it 
once more from every angle. It is just possible that an inspiration 
might pop up. Inspirations do, don’t they ? All in a flash, as it 
were ?” 

“Yes, sir. The mathematician Archimedes is related to have 
discovered the principle of displacement quite suddenly one 
morning, while in his bath.” 



82 THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 

“Well, there you are. And I don’t suppose he was such a devil 
of a chap. Compared with you, I mean.” 

“A g^ed man, I believe, sir. It has been a matter of general 
regret that he was subsequently killed by a common soldier.” 

“Too bad. StiU, all flesh is as grass, what?” 

“Very true, sir.” 

I lighted a thoughtful cigarette and, dismissing Archimedes for 
the nonce, allowed my mind to dwell once more on the ghastly 
jam into which I had been thrust by young Stiffy’s ill-advised 
behaviour. 

“You know, Jeeves,” I said, “when you really start to look into 
it, it’s perfectly amazing how the opposite sex seems to go out of 
its way to snooter me. You recall Miss Wickham and the hot- 
water bottle?” 

“Yes, sir.” 

“And Gwladys what-was-her-name, who put her boy friend 
with the broken leg to bed in my flat ?” 

“Yes, sir.” 

“And Pauline Stoker, who invaded my rural cottage at dead of 
night in a bathing suit ?” 

“Yes, sir.” 

“What a sex ! What a sex, Jeeves ! But none of that sex, however 
deadlier than the male, can be ranked in the same class with this 
Stiffy. Who was the chap lo whose name led all the rest — ^the bird 
with the angel?” 

“Abou ben Adhem, sir.” 

“That’s Stifiy. She’s the top. Yes, Jeeves?” 

“I was merely about to inquire, sir, if Miss Byng, when she 
uttered her threat of handing over Mr. Fink-Nottle’s notebook to 
Sir Watkyn, by any chance spoke with a twinkle in her eye.” 

“A roguish one, you mean, indicating that she was merely 
pulling my leg ? Not a suspicion of it. No, Jeeves, I have seen 
untwinkling eyes before, many of them, but never a pair so totally 
free from twinkle as hers. She wasn’t kidding. She meant business. 
She was fully aware that she was doing something which even by 
female standards was raw, but she dida’t care. The whole fact of 
the matter is that all this modern emancipation of women has 
resulted in them getting it up their noses and not giving a damn 
what they do. It was not like this in Queen Victoria’s day. The 
Prince Consort would have had a word to say about a girl like 
Stii^, what?” 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 83 

“I can conceive that His Royal Highness might quite possibly 
not have approved of Aliss Byng.” 

“He would have had her over his knee^ laying into her with a 
slipper, before she knew where she was. And I wouldn’t put it 
past him to have treated Aunt Dahlia in a similar fashion. Talking 
of which, I suppose I ought to be going and seeing the aged 
relative.” 

“She appeared very desirous of conferring with you, sir.” 

“Far from mutual, Jeeves, that desire. I will coihfess frankly 
that I am not looking forward to the sianceP 

“No, sir?” 

“No. You see, I sent her a telegram just before tea, saying that I 
wasn’t going to pinch that cow-creamer, and she must have left 
London long before it arrived. In other words, she has come 
expecting to find a nephew straining at the leash to do her bidding, 
and the news will have to be broken to her that the deal is off. She 
will not like this, Jeeves, and I don’t mind telling you that the 
more I contemplate the coming chat, the colder the feet become.” 

“If I might suggest, sir — ^it is, of course, merely a palliative — 
but it has often been found in times of despondency that the 
assumption of formal evening dress has a stimulating effect on the 
morale.” 

“You think I ought to put on a white tie? Spode told me 
black.” 

“I consider that the emergency justifies the departure, sir.” 

“Perhaps you’re right.” 

And, of course, he was. In these delicate matters of psychology 
he never errs. I got into the full soup and fish, and was immediately 
conscious of a marked improvement. The feet became warmer, a 
sparkle returned to the lack-lustre eyes, and the soul seemed to 
expand as if someone had got to work on it with a bicycle pump. 
And I was surveying the effect in the mirror, kneading the tie with 
gentle fingers and running over in my mind a few things which I 
proposed to say to Aunt Dahlia if she started getting tough, 
when the door opened and Gussie came in. 

At the sight of this bespectacled bird, a pang of compassion shot 
through me, for a glance was enough to tell me that he was not 
abreast of stop-press events. There was visible in his demeanour 
not one of the earmarks of a man to whom Stiffy had been confiding 
her plans. His bearing was buoyant, and I exchanged a swift, 



84 


THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


meaning glance with Jeeves. Mine said “He little knows and so 
did his. 

“What ho!” said Gussie. “What ho! Hullo^ Jeeves.” 

“Good evenings sir.” 

“Well, Bertie, what’s the news ? Have you seen her ?” 

The pang of compash became more acute. I heaved a silent 
sigh. It was to be my mournful task to administer to tliis old 
friend a very substantial sock on the jaw, and I shrank from it. 

Still, these things have to be faced. The surgeon’s knife, I mean 
to say. 

“Yes,” I said.“Yes, IVe seen her. Jeeves, have we any brandy ?” 

“No, sir.” 

“Could you get a spot?” 

“Certainly, sir.” 

“Better bring the bottle.” 

“Very good, sir.” 

He melted away, and Gussie stared at me in honest amazement. 

“What’s all this ? You can’t start swigging brandy just before 
dinner.” 

“I do not propose to. It is for you, my suffering old martyr at 
the stake, that I require the stuff.” 

“I don’t drink brandy.” 

“I’ll bet you drink this brandy — ^yes, and call for more. Sit 
down, Gussie, and let us chat awhile.” 

And depositing him in the arm-chair, I engaged him in 
desultory conversation about the weather and the crops. I didn’t 
want to spring the thing on him till the restorative was handy. 
I prattled on, endeavouring to infuse into my deportment a 
sort of bedside manner which would prepare him for the worst, 
and it was not long before I noted that he was looking at me 
oddly. 

“Bertie, I believe you’re pie-eyed.” 

“Not at all.” 

“Then what are you babbling like this for ?” 

“Just filling in till Jeeves gets back with the fluid. Ah, thank 
you, Jeeves.” 

I took the brimming beaker from his hand, and gently placed 
Gussie’s fingers round the stem. 

“You had better go and inform Aunt Dahlia that I shall not be 
able to keep our tryst, Jeeves. This is going to take some time.” 

“Very good, sir.” 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 85 

I turned to Gussie, who was now looking like a bewildered 
halibut. 

‘‘Gussie/’ I said, “drink that down, and listen. I’m afraid I 
have bad news for you. About that notebook.” 

“About the notebook ?” 

“Yes.” 

“You don’t mean she hasn’t got it?” 

“That is precisely the nub or crux. She has, and she is going to 
give it to Pop Bassett.” 

I had expected him to take it fairly substantially, and he did. 
His eyes, like stars, started from their spheres and he leaped from 
the chair, spilling die contents of the glass and causing the room to 
niff like the saloon bar of a pub on a Saturday night. 

“What!” 

“That is the posish, I fear.” 

“But, my gosh!” 

“Yes.” 

“You don’t really mean that ?” 

“I do.” 

“But why?” 

“She has her reasons.” 

“But she can’t realize what will happen.” 

“Yes, she does.” 

“It \^1 mean ruin!” 

“Definitely.” 

“Oh, my gosh!” 

It has often been said that disaster brings out the best in the 
Woosters. A strange calm descended on me. I patted his shoulder. 

“Courage, Gussie! Think of Archimedes.” 

“Why?” 

“He was killed by a common soldier.” 

“What of it?” 

“Well, it can’t have been pleasant for him, but I have no doubt 
he passed out smiHng.” 

My intrepid attitude had a good effect. He became more com- 
posed. I don’t say that even now we were exactly like a couple of 
French aristocrats waiting for the tumbril, but there was a 
certain resemblance. 

“When did she tell you this ?” 

“On the terrace not long ago.” 

“And she really meant it ?” 



86 


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“Yes.” 

“There wasn’t ” 

“A twinkle in her eyes ? No. No twinkle.” 

“Well, isn’t there any way of stopping her ?” 

I had been expecting him to bring this up, but I was sorry he 
had done so. I foresaw a period of fruitless argument. 

“Yes,” I said. “There is. She says she will forgo her dreadful 
purpose if I steal old Bassett’s cow-creamer.” 

“You mean that silver cow thing he was showing us at dinner 
last night?” 

“That’s the one.” 

“But why ?” 

I explained the position of affairs. He listened intelligently, his 
face brightening. 

“Now I see! Now I understand! I couldn’t imagine what her 
idea was. Her behaviour seemed so absolutely motiveless. Well, 
that’s fine. That solves everything.” 

I hated to put a crimp in hiis happy exuberance, but it had to be 
done. 

“Not quite, because I’m joUy well not going to do it.” 

“What! Why not?” 

“Because, if I do, Roderick Spode says he will beat me to a 
jeUy.” 

“What’s Roderick Spode got to do with it ?” 

“He appears to have espoused that cow-creamer’s cause. No 
doubt from esteem for old Bassett.” 

“H’m! Well, you aren’t afraid of Roderick Spode.” 

“Yes, I am.” 

“Nonsense! I know you better than that.” 

“No, you don’t.” 

He took a turn up and down the room. 

“But, Bertie, there’s nothing to be afraid of in a man like 
Spode, a mere mass of beef and brawn. He’s bound to be slow on 
his feet. He would never catch you.” 

“I don’t intend to try him out as a sprinter.” 

“Besides, it isn’t as if you had to stay on here. You can be off the 
moment you’ve put the thing through. Send a note down to this 
curate after dinner, telling him to be on the spot at midnight, and 
then go to it. Here is the schedule, as I see it. Steal cow-creamer — 
say, twelve-fifteen to twelve-thirty, or call it twelve-forty, to 
allow for accidents. Twelve-forty-five, be at stables, starting up 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


87 


your car. Twelve-fifty, out on the open road, having accom- 
plished a nice, smooth job. I can’t think what you’re worrying 
about. The whole thing seems almost childishly simple to me.” 

‘‘Nevertheless ” 

“You won’t doit?” 

“No.” 

He moved to the mantelpiece, and began fiddling with a 
statuette of a shepherdess of sorts. 

“Is this Bertie Wooster speaking ?” he asked. 

“It is.” 

“Bertie Wooster whom I admired so at school — ^the boy we 
used to call ‘Daredevil Bertie’ ?” 

“That’s right.” 

“In that case, I suppose there is nothing more to be said.” 

“No.” 

“Our only course is to recover the book from the Byng.” 

“How do you propose to do that ?” 

He pondered, frowning. Then the little grey cells seemed to 
stir. 

“I know. Listen. That book means a lot to her, doesn’t it ?” 

“It does.” 

“This being so, she would carry it on her person, as I did.” 

“I suppose so.” 

“In her stocking, probably. Very well, then.” 

“How do you mean, very well, then ?” 

“Don’t you see what I’m driving at ?” 

“No.” 

“WeU, listen. You could easily engage her in a sort of friendly 
romp, if you know what I mean, in the course of which it 
would be simple to . . . well, something in the nature of a jocular 
embrace . . .” 

I checked him sharply. There are limits, and we Woosters 
recognize them. 

“Gussie, are you suggesting that I prod Stiffy’s legs ?” 

“Yes.” 

“WeU, I’m not going to.” 

“Why not?” 

“We need not delve into my reasons,” I said, stiffly. “Suffice it 
that the shot is not on the board.” 

He gave me a look, a kind of wide-eyed, reproachful look, such 
as a dying newt might have given him, if he had forgotten to 



88 


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change its water regularly. He drew in his breath sharply. 

“You certainly have altered completely from the boy I knew 
at school,” he said. “You seem to have gone all to pieces. No 
pluck. No dash. No enterprise. Alcohol, I suppose.” 

He sighed and broke the shepherdess, and we moved to the 
door. As I opened it, he gave me another look. 

“You aren’t coming down to dinner like that, are you ? What 
are you wearing a wMte tie for?” 

“Jeeves recommended it, to keep up the spirits.” 

“Well, you’re going to feel a perfect ass. Old Bassett dines in a 
velvet smoking-jacket with soup stains across the front. Better 
change.” 

There was a good deal in what he said. One does not like to 
look conspicuous. At the risk of lowering the morale, I turned to 
doff the tails. And as I did so there came to us from the drawing- 
room below the sound of a fresh young voice chanting, to the 
accompaniment of a piano, what exhibited all the symptoms of 
being an old English folk song. The ear detected a good deal of 
“Hey nonny nonny,” and all 5xat sort of thing. 

This uproar had the effect of causing Gussie’s eyes to smoulder 
behind the spectacles. It was as if he were feeling that this was 
just that little bit extra which is more than man can endure. 

“Stephanie Byng !” he said bitterly. “Singing at a time like this !” 

He snorted, and left the room. And I was just finis hing tying 
the black tie, when Jeeves entered. 

“Mrs. Travers,” he announced formally. 

An “Oh, golly!” broke from my lips. I had known, of course, 
hearing that formal announcement, that she was coming, but so 
does a poor blighter taking a stroll and looking up and seeing a 
chap in an aeroplane dropping a bomb on his head know that 
that’s coming, but it doesn’t make it any better when it arrives. 

I could see that she was a good deal stirred up — all of a doodah 
would perhaps express it better — and I hastened to bung her 
civilly into the arm-chair and make my apologies. 

“Frightfully sorry I couldn’t come and see you, old ancestor,” 
I said. “I was closeted with Gussie Fink-Nottle upon a matter 
deeply affecting our mutual interests. Since we last met, there 
have been new developments, and my affairs have become 
somewhat entangled, I regret to say. You might put it that Hell’s 
foundations are quivering. That is not overstating it, Jeeves ?” 



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sir.” 

She dismissed my protestations with a wave of the hand. 

‘"So you’re having your troubles^ too^ are you? Well, I don’t 
know what new developments there have been at your end, but 
there has been a new development at mine, and it’s a stinker. 
That’s why I’ve come down here in such a hurry. The most rapid 
action has got to be taken, or the home will be in the melting-pot.” 

I began to wonder if even the Mona Lisa could have found the 
going so sticky as I was finding it. One thing after another, I 
mean to say. 

“What is it?” I asked. “W'hat’s happened?” 

She choked for a moment, then contrived to utter a single word. 

“Anatolel” 

“ Anatole ?” I took her hand and pressed it soothingly. “Tell 
me, old fever patient,” I said, “what, if anything, are you talking 
about? How do you mean, Anatole?” 

“If we don’t look slippy, I shall lose him.” 

A cold hand seemed to clutch at my heart. 

“Lose him?” 

“Yes.” 

“Even after doubling his wages ?” 

“Even after doubling his wages. Listen, Bertie. Just before I 
left home this afternoon, a letter arrived for Tom from Sir 
Watkyn Bassett. When I say ‘just before I left home,’ that was 
what made me leave home. Because do you know what was in it ?” 

“What?” 

“It contained an offer to swap the cow-creamer for Anatole, and 
Tom is seriously considering it!” 

I stared at her. 

“What? Incredulous I” 

“Incredible, sir.” 

“Thank you, Jeeves, Incredible! I don’t beHeve it. Uncle Tom 
would never contemplate such a thing for an instant.” 

“Wouldn’t he? That’s all you know. Do you remember 
Pomeroy, the butler we had before Seppings?” 

“I should say so. A noble fellow.” 

“A treasure.” 

“A gem. I never could think why you let him go.” 

‘"Tom traded him to the Bessington-Copes for an oviform 
chocolate pot on three scroll feet.” 

I struggled with a growing despair. 



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“But surely the delirious old ass — or, rather, Uncle Tom — 
wouldn’t fritter Anatole away like that?” 

“He certainly would.” 

She rose, and moved restlessly to the mantelpiece. I could see 
that she was looking for something to break as a relief to her surg- 
ing emotions — ^what Jeeves would have called a palliative — ^and 
courteously drew her attention to a terra-cotta figure of the Infant 
Samuel At Prayer. She thanked me briefly, and hurled it against 
the opposite wall. 

“I tell you, Bertie, there are no lengths to which a really loony 
collector will not go to secure a coveted specimen. Tom’s actual 
words, as he handed me the letter to read, were that it would give 
him genuine pleasure to skin old Bassett ahve and personally drop 
him into a vat of boiling oil, but that he saw no alternative but to 
meet his demands. The only thing that stopped him wiring him 
there and then that it was a deal was my telling him that you had 
gone to Todeigh Towers expressly to pinch the cow-creamer, 
and that he would have it in his hands almost immediately. How 
are you coming along in that direction, Bertie? Formed your 
schemes ? All your plans cut and dried ? We can’t afford to waste 
time. Every moment is precious.” 

I felt a trifle boneless. The news, I saw, would now have to be 
broken, and I hoped that that was all there would be. This aunt is 
a formidable old creature, when stirred, and I could not but recall 
what had happened to the Infant Samuel. 

“I was going to talk to you about that,” I said. “Jeeves, have 
you that document we prepared?” 

“Here it is, sir.” 

“Thank you, Jeeves. And I think it might be a good thmg if you 
were to go and bring a spot more brandy.” 

“Very good, sir.” 

He withdrew, and I slipped her the paper, bidding her read it 
attentively. She gave it the eye. 

“What’s all this?” 

“You wiU soon see. Note how it is headed. ‘Wooster, B. — 
position of.’ Those words tell the story. They explain,” I said, 
backing a step and getting ready to duck, “why it is that I must 
resolutely decline to pinch that cow-creamer.” 

“What!” 

“I sent you a telegram to that effect this afternoon, but, of 
course, it missed you.” 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


91 


She was looking at me pleadingly, like a fond mother at 
an idiot child who has just pulled something exceptionally 
goofy. 

“But, Bertie, dear, haven’t you been listening ? About Anatole ? 
Don’t you realize the position?” 

“Oh, quite.” 

“Then have you gone cuckoo ? When I say ‘gone,’ of course 


I held up a checking hand. 

“Let me explain, aged r. You will recall that I mentioned to 
you that there had been some recent developments. One of these is 
that Sir Watkyn Bassett knows all about this cow-creamer- 
pinching scheme and is watching my every movement. Another 
is that he has confided his suspicions to a pal of his named Spode. 
Perhaps on your arrival here you met Spode ?” 

“That big fellow ?” 

“Big is right, though perhaps ‘supercolossal’ would be more the 
mot juste. Well, Sir Watkyn, as I say, has confided his suspicions 
to Spode, and I have it from the latter personally that if that cow- 
creamer isappears, he will beat me to a jelly. That is why nothing 
constructive can be accomplished.” 

A silence of some duration followed these remarks. I could see 
that she was chewing on the thing and reluctantly coming to the 
conclusion that it was no idle whim of Bertram’s that was causing 
him to fail her in her hour of need. She appreciated the cleft 
stick in which he found himself and, unless I am vastly mistaken, 
shuddered at it. 

This relative is a woman who, in the days of my boyhood and 
adolescence, was accustomed frequently to clump me over the 
side of the head when she considered that my behaviour war- 
ranted this gesture, and I have often felt in these later days that she 
was on the point of doing it again. But beneath this earhole- 
sloshing exterior there beats a tender heart, and her love for 
Bertram is, I know, deep-rooted. She would be the last person to 
wish to see him get his eyes bunged up and have that well-shaped 
nose punched out of position. 

“I see,” she said, at length. “Yes. That makes things difficult, 
of course.” 

“Extraordinarily difficult. If you care to describe the situation 
as an impasse^ it will be all right with me.” 

“Said he would beat you to a jelly, did he ?” 



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“That was the expression he used. He repeated it, so that there 
should be no mistake.” 

“Well, I wouldn't for the world have you manhandled by that 
big stiff. You wouldn’t have a chance against a gorilla like that. He 
would tear the stuffing out of you before you could say Tip-pip’. 
He would rend you limb from limb and scatter the fragments to 
the four winds.” 

I winced a little. 

“No need to make a song about it, old flesh and blood.” 

“You’re sure he meant what he said ?” 

“Quite.” 

“His bark may be worse than his bite.” 

I smiled sadly. 

“I see where you’re heading. Aunt £)ahlia,” I said. “In another 
minute you will be asking if there wasn’t a twinkle in his eye as he 
spoke. There wasn’t. The poli^ which Roderick Spode outlined 
to me at our recent interview is the policy which he will pursue 
and fulfil.” 

“Then we seem to be stymied. Unless Jeeves can think of 
something.” She addressed ffie man, who had just entered with 
the brandy — ^not before it was time. I couldn’t ffiink why he had 
taken so long over it. “We are talking of Mr. Spode, Jeeves.” 

“Yes, madam ?” 

“Jeeves and I have already discussed the Spode menace,” I said 
moodily, “and he confesses himself baffled. For once, that sub- 
stantial brain has failed to click. He has brooded, but no formula.” 

Aunt Dahlia had been swigging the brandy gratefully, and there 
now came into her face a thoughtful look. 

“You know what has just occurred to me ?” she said. 

“Say on, old thicker than water,” I replied, still with that dark 
moodiness. “I’ll bet it’s rotten.” 

“It’s not rotten at all. It may solve everything. I’ve been wond- 
ering if this man Spode hasn’t some shady secret. Do you know 
anyffiing about him, Jeeves?” 

“No, madam.” 

“How do you mean, a secret ?” 

“What I was turning over in my mind was the thought that, if 
he had some chink in his armour, one might hold him up by 
means of it, thus drawing his fangs. I remember, when I was a 
girl, seeing your Uncle George kiss my governess, and it was 
amazing how it eased the strain later on, when there was any 



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93 


question of her keeping me in after school to write out the 
principal imports and exports of the United Kingdom. You see 
what I mean ? Suppose we knew that Spode had shot a fox^ or 
something ? You don’t think much of it ?” she said^ seeing tibat 
was pursing my lips dubiously. 

'‘I can see it as an idea. But there seems to me to be one fatal 
snag — viz. that we don’t know.” 

‘‘YeSj that’s true.” She rose. “Oh^, well^ it was just a random 
thought^ I merely threw it out. And now I think I will be returning 
to my room and spraying my temples with eau-de-Cologne. My 
head feels as if it were about to burst like shrapnel.” 

The door closed. I sank into the chair which she had vacated, 
and mopped the b. 

“Well, that’s over/’ I said thankfully. “She took the blow 
better than I had hoped, Jeeves. The Quorn trains its daughters 
well. But, stiff though her upper lip was, you could see that she 
felt it deeply, and that brandy came in handy. By the way, you 
were the dickens of a while bringing it. A St. Bernard dog would 
have been there and back in half the time.” 

“Yes, sir. I am sorry. I was detained in conversation by Mr. 
Fink-Nottle.” 

I sat pondering. 

“You know, Jeeves,” I said, “that wasn’t at all, a bad idea of 
Aunt Dahlia’s about getting the goods on Spode. Fundamentally, 
it was sound. If Spode had buried the body and we knew where, it 
would unquestionably render him a negligible force. But you say 
you know nothing about him.” 

“No, sir.” 

“And I doubt if there is anything to know, anyway. There are 
some chaps, one look at whom is enough to tell you tiiat they are 
pukka sahibs who play the game and do not do the things that 
aren’t done, and prominent among these, I fear, is Roderick 
Spode. I shouldn’t imagine that the most rigorous investigation 
would uncover anything about him worse than that moustache of 
his, and to the world’s scrutiny of that he obviously has no 
objection, or he wouldn’t wear the damned thing.” 

“Very true, sir. Still, it might be worth while to institute 
inquiries.” 

“Yes, but where ?” 

“I was thinidng of the Junior Ganymede, sir. It is a club for 
gentlemen’s personal gentlemen in Curzon Street, to which I 



94 


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have belonged for some years. The personal attendant of a 
gentleman of Mr. Spode’s prominence would be sure to be a 
member, and he would, of course, have confided to the secretary a 
good deal of material concerning him, for insertion in the club 
book.” 

“Eh?” 

“Under Rule Eleven, every new member is required to supply 
the club with full information regarding his employer. This not 
only provides entertaining reading, but serves as a war ning to 
members who may be contemplating taking service with gentle- 
men who fall short of the ideal.” 

A thought struck me, and I started. Indeed, I started rather 
violently. 

“What happened when you joined ?” 

“Sir?” 

“Did you tell them all about me ?” 

“Oh, yes, sir.” 

“What, everything ? The time when old Stoker was after me 
and I had to black up with boot polish in order to assume a 
rudimentary disguise?” 

“Yes, sir.” 

“And the occasion on which I came home after Pongo Twistle- 
ton’s birthday party and mistook the standard lamp for a burglar ?’ 

“Yes, sir. The members like to have these things to read on wet 
afternoons.” 

“They do, do they? And suppose some wet afternoon Aunt 
Agatha reads them ? Did that occur to you ?” 

“The contingency of Mrs. Spenser Gregson obtaining access to 
the club book is a remote one.” 

“I dare say. But recent events under this very roof will have 
shown you how women do obtain access to books.” 

I relapsed into silence, pondering on this startling glimpse he 
had accorded me of what went on in institutions like the Junior 
Ganymede, of the existence of which I had previously been 
unaware. I had known, of course, that at nights, after serving the 
frugal meal, Jeeves would put on the old bowler hat and slip 
round the corner, but I had always supposed his destination to 
have been the saloon bar of some neighbouring pub. Of clubs in 
Curzon Street I had had no inkling. 

Still less had I had an inkling that some of the fruitiest of 
Bertram Wooster’s possibly ill-judged actions were being in- 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


95 


scribed in a book. The whole thing to my mind smacked rather 
unpleasantly of Abou ben Adhem and Recording Angels, and I 
found myself frowning somewhat. 

Still, there didn’t seem much to be done about it, so I re- 
turned to what Constable Oates would have called the point at 
tissue. 

“Then what’s your idea? To apply to the Secretary for in- 
formation about Spode?” 

“Yes, sir.” 

“You think he’ll give it to you ?” 

“Oh, yes, sir.” 

“You mean he scatters these data — ^these extraordinarily 
dangerous data — ^these data that might spell ruin if they fell into 
the wrong hands — ^broadcast to whoever asks for them?” 

“Only to members, sir.” 

“How soon could you get in touch with him ?” 

“I could ring him up on the telephone immediately, sir.” 

“Then do so, Jeeves, and if possible chalk the call up to Sir 
Watkyn Bassett. And don’t lose your nerve when you hear the 
girl say ‘Three minutes.’ Carry on regardless. Cost what it may, ye 
Sec must be made to understand — ^and understand thoroughly — 
that now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the 
party.” 

“I think I can convince him that an emergency exists, sir.” 

“If you can’t, refer him to me.” 

“Very good, sir.” 

He started off on his errand of mercy. 

“Oh, by the way, Jeeves,” I said, as he was passing through the 
door, “did you say you had been talking to Gussie ?” 

“Yes, sir.” 

“Had he anything new to report ?” 

“Yes, sir. It appears that his relations with Miss Bassett have 
been severed. The engagement is broken off.” 

He floated out, and I leaped three feet. A dashed difiBcult thing 
to do, when you’re sitting in an armchair, but I managed it. 

“Jeeves!” I yelled. 

But he had gone, leaving not a wrack behind. 

From downstairs there came the sudden booming of the dinner 
gong. 



* 6 * 


I T has always given me a bit of a pang to look back at that 
dinner and think that agony of mind prevented me sailing 
into it in the right carefree mood^ for it was one which in happier 
circumstances I would have got my nose down to with a will. 
Whatever Sir Watkyn Bassett’s moral shortcomings^ he did his 
guests extraordinarily well at the festive boards and even in my 
preoccupied condition it was plain to me in the first five minutes 
that his cook was a woman who had the divine fire in her. From 
a Grade A soup we proceeded to a toothsome fish^ and from the 
toothsome fish to a salmi of game which even Anatole might 
have been proud to sponsor. Add asparagus^ a jam omelette and 
some spirited sardines on toasts and you will see what I mean. 

All wasted on me^ of course. As the fellow said^ better a dinner 
of herbs when you’re all buddies together than a regular blow-out 
when you’re not^ and the sight of Gussie and Madeline Bassett 
sitting side by side at the other end of the table turned the food 
to ashes in my m. I viewed them with concern. 

You know what engaged couples are like in mixed company, 
as a rule. They put their heads together and converse in whispers. 
They slap and giggle. They pat and prod. I have even known the 
female member of the duo to feed her companion with a fork. 
There was none of this sort of thing about Madelme Bassett and 
Gussie. He looked pale and corpse-like, she cold and proud and 
aloof. They put in the time for the most part making bread pills 
and, as far as I was able to ascertain, didn’t exchange a word 
from start to finish. Oh, yes, once — ^when he asked her to pass 
the salt, and she passed the pepper, and he said ‘T meant the 
salt,” and she said “Oh, really?” and passed the mustard. 

There could be no question whatever that Jeeves was right. 
Brass rags had been parted by the young couple, and what was 
weighing upon me, apart from the tragic aspect, was the mystery 
of it all. I could think of no solution, and I looked forward to the 
conclusion of the meal, when the w^omen should have legged it 
and I would be able to get together with Gussie over the port and 
learn the inside dope. 


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97 


To my surprise, however, the last female had no sooner passed 
through the door than Gussie, who had been holding it open, 
shot through after her like a diving duck and did not return, 
leaving me alone with my host and Roderick Spode. And as they 
sat snuggled up together at the far end of the table, talking to one 
another in low voices and staring at me from time to time as if I 
had been a ticket-of-leave man who had got in by crashing the 
gate and might be expected, unless carefully watched, to pocket 
a spoon or two, it was not long before I, too, left. Murmuring 
something about fetching my cigarette case, I sidled out and went 
up to my room. It seemed to me that either Gussie or Jeeves 
would be bound to look in there sooner or later. 

A cheerful fire was burning in the grate, and to while away the 
time I pulled the arm-chair up and got out the mystery story I 
had brought with me from London. As my researches in it had 
already shown me, it was a particularly good one, full of crisp 
clues and meaty murders, and I was soon absorbed. Scarcely, 
however, had I really had time to get going on it, when there 
was a rattle at the door-handle, and who should amble in but 
Roderick Spode. 

I looked at him with not a little astonishment. I mean to say, 
the last chap I was expecting to invade my bedchamber. And it 
wasn’t as if he had come to apologize for his offensive attitude on 
the terrace, when in addition to muttering menaces he had 
called me a miserable worm, or for those stares at the dinner 
table. One glance at his face told me that. The first thing a chap 
who has come to apologize does is to weigh in with an ingratiating 
simper, and of this there was no sign. 

As a matter of fact, he seemed to me to be looking slightly 
more sinister than ever, and I found his aspect so forbidding that 
I dug up an ingratiating simper myself. I didn’t suppose it would 
do much towards conciliating the blighter, but every little helps. 

'"Oh, hullo, Spode,” I said affably. “Come on in. Is there 
something I can do for you ?’* 

Without replying, he walked to the cupboard, threw it open 
with a brusque twiddle and glared into it. This done, he turned 
and eyed me, still in that unchummy manner. 

‘T thought Fink-Nottle might be here.” 

“He isn’t.” 

“So I see.” 

“Did you expect to find him in the cupboard ?” 



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“Yes.” 

“Oh?” 

There was a pause. 

“Any message I can give him if he turns up ?” 

“Yes. You can tell him that I am going to break his neck.” 

“Break his neck ?” 

“Yes. Are you deaf? Break his neck.” 

I nodded pacificaEy. 

“I see. Break his neck. Right. And if he asks why ?” 

“He knows why. Because he is a butterfly who toys with 
women’s hearts and throws them away like soiled gloves.” 

“Right ho.” I hadn’t had a notion that that was what butterflies 
did. Most interesting. “Well, I’ll let him know if I run across him.” 

“Thank you.” 

He withdrew, slamming the door, and I sat musing on the 
odd way in which history repeats itself. I mean to say, the 
situation was almost identical with the one which had arisen 
some few months earlier at Brinkley, when young Tuppy Glossop 
had come to my room with a similar end in view. True, Tuppy, 
if I remembered rightly, had wanted to pull Gussie inside out 
and make him swallow himself, while Spode had spoken of 
breaking his neck, but the principle was the same. 

I saw what had happened, of course. It was a development 
which I had rather been anticipatmg. I had not forgotten what 
Gussie had told me earher in the day about Spode informing him 
of his intention of leaving no stone unturned to dislocate his 
cervical vertebrae should he ever do Madeline Bassett wrong. He 
had doubtless learned the facts from her over the coffee, and was 
now setting out to put his policy into operation. 

As to what these facts were, I still had not the remotest. But 
it was evident from Spode’s maimer that they reflected little credit 
on Gussie. He must, I realized, have been making an ass of 
himself in a big way. 

A fearful situation, beyond a doubt, and if there had been 
anything I could have done about it, I would have done same 
without hesitation. But it seemed to me that I was helpless, and 
that Nature must take its course. With a slight sigh, I resumed 
my gooseflesher, and was making fair progress with it, when a 
hollow voice said: “I say, Bertie!” and I sat up quivering in every 
limb. It was as if a family spectre had edged up and breathed 
down the back of my neck. 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 99 

Turning, I observed Augustus Fink-Nottle appearing from 
under the bed. 

Owing to the fact that the shock had caused my tongue to get 
tangled up with my tonsils, inducing an unpleasant choking sen- 
sation, I found myself momentarily incapable of speech. All I was 
able to do was goggle at Gussie, and it was immediately evident 
to me, as I did so, that he had been following the recent con- 
versation closely. His whole demeanour was that of a man vividly 
conscious of being just about half a jump ahead of Roderick Spode 
The hair was ruffled, the eyes wild, the nose twitching. A rabbit 
pursued by a weasel would have looked just the same — allowing, 
of course, for the fact that it would not have been wearing 
tortoiseshell-rimmed spectacles. 

‘‘That was a close call, Bertie,’^ he said, in a low, quivering 
voice. He crossed the room, giving a little at the knees. His face 
was a rather pretty greenish colour. “I think I’ll lock the door, if 
you don^t mind. He might come back. Why he didn’t look under 
the bed, I can’t imagine. I always thought these Dictators were so 
thorough.” 

I managed to get the tongue unhitched. 

“Never mind about beds and Dictators. What’s all this about 
you and Madeline Bassett ?” 

He winced. 

“Do you mind not talking about that ?” 

“Yes, I do mind not talking about it. It’s the only thing I want 
to talk about. What on earth has she broken off the engagement 
for ? What did you do to her ?” 

He winced again. I could see that I was probing an exposed 
nerve. 

“It wasn’t so much what I did to her — ^it was what I did to 
Stephanie Byng.” 

“To Stiffy?” 

“Yes.” 

“What did you do to Stiffy ?” 

He betrayed some embarrassment. 

“I — er . . . Well, as a matter of fact, I . . . Mind you, I can 
see now that it was a mistake, but it seemed a good idea at the 
time . . . You see, the fact is . , 

“Get on with it.” 

He pulled himself together with a visible effort. 



100 


THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


“Well, I wonder if you remember, Bertie, what we were saying 
up here before dinner . . . About the possibility of her carrying 
that notebook on her person ... I put forward the theory, if 
you recall, that it might be in her stocking . . . And I suggested 
if you recollect, that one might ascertain . . 

I reeled. I had got the gist. “You didn’t ?” 

“Yes.” 

“When?” 

Again that look of pain passed over his face. 

“Just before dinner. You remember we heard her singing folk- 
songs in the drawing-room. I went down there, and there she 
was at the piano, all alone ... At least, I thought she was all 
alone . . . And it suddenly struck me that this would be an 
excellent opportunity to . . . What I didn’t know, you see, was 
that Madeline, though invisible for the moment, was also present. 
She had gone behind the screen in the comer to get a further 
supply of folk-songs from the chest in which they are kept . . . 
and . . . well, the long and short of it is that, just as I was 
.... well, to cut a long story short, just as I was .... 

. . . How shall I put it ? . . . Just as I was, so to speak, getting 
on with it, out she came . . . and . . . Well, you see what I 
mean ... I mean, coming so soon after that taking-the-fly-out- 
of-this-girl’s-eye-in-the-stable-yard business, it was not easy to 
pass it off. As a matter of fact, I didn’t pass it off. That’s the whole 
story. How are you on knotting sheets, Bertie ?” 

I could not follow what is known as the transition of thought. 

“Knotting sheets ?” 

“I was thinking it over under the bed, while you and Spode 
were chatting, and I came to the conclusion that the only thing 
to be done is for us to take the sheets off your bed and tie Imots in 
them, and then you can lower me down from the window. They 
do it in books, and I have an idea I’ve seen it in the movies. Once 
outside, I can take your car and drive up to London. After that, 
my plans are uncertain. I may go to California.” 

“California?” 

“It’s seven thousand miles away. Spode would hardly come to 
California.” 

I stared at him aghast. 

“You aren’t going to do a bolt ?” 

“Of course I’m going to do a bolt. Immediately. You heard 
what Spode said ?” 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


101 


“You aren’t afraid of Spode ?” 

“Yes, I am.” 

“But you were saying yourself that he’s a mere mass of beef 
and brawn, obviously slow on his feet.” 

“I know. I remember. But that was when I thought he was 
after you. One’s views change.” 

“But, Gussie, pull yourself together. You can’t just run away.” 

“What else can I do?” 

“Why, stick around and try to effect a reconciliation. You 
haven’t had a shot at pleading with the girl yet.” 

“Yes, I have. I did it at dinner. During the fish course. No 
good. She just gave me a cold look, and made bread pills.” 

I racked the bean. I was sure there must be an avenue some- 
where, waiting to be explored, and in about half a minute I 
spotted it. 

“What you’ve got to do,” I said, “is to get that notebook. If 
you secured that book and showed it to Madeline, its contents 
would convince her that your motives in acting as you did towards 
Stiffy were not what she supposed, but pure to the last drop. She 
would realize that your behaviour was the outcome of . . . it’s 
on the tip of my tongue ... of a counsel of desperation. She 
would understand and forgive.” 

For a moment, a faint flicker of hope seemed to illumine his 
twisted features. 

“It’s a thought,” he agreed. “I believe you’ve got something 
there, Bertie. That’s not a bad idea.” 

“It can’t fail. Tout comprendre, c’est tout pardonner about sums 
it up.” 

The flicker faded. 

“But how can I get the book ? Where is it ?” 

“It wasn’t on her person ?” 

“I don’t think so. Though my investigations were, in the 
circumstances, necessarily cursory.” 

“Then it’s probably in her room.” 

“Well, there you are. I can’t go searching a girl’s room.” 

“Why not ? You see that book I was readmg when you popped 
up. By an odd coincidence — I call it a coincidence, but probably 
these things are sent to us for a purpose — I had just come to a 
bit where a gang had been doing that very thing. Do it now, 
Gussie. She’s probably fixed in the drawing-room for the next 
hour or so.” 



102 


THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


“As a matter of fact^ she’s gone to the village. The curate is 
giving an address on the Holy Land with coloured slides to the 
Village Mothers at the Working Men’s Institute, and she is 
playing the piano accompaniment. But even so . . . No, Bertie, 
I can’t do it. It may be the right thing to do ... in fact, I can 
see that it is the right thing to do . . . but I haven’t the nerve. 
Suppose Spode came in and caught me.” 

“Spode would hardly wander into a young girl’s room.” 

“I don’t know so much. You can’t form plans on any light- 
hearted assumption like that. I see him as a chap who wanders 
everywhere. No. My heart is broken, my future a blank, and there 
is nothing to be done but accept the fact and start knotting sheets. 
Let’s get at it.” 

“You don’t knot any of my sheets.” 

“But, dash it, my life is at stake.” 

“I don’t care. I decline to be a party to this craven scooting.” 

“Is this Bertie Wooster speaking ?” 

“You said that before.” 

“And I say it again. For the last time, Bertie, will you lend me 
a couple of sheets and help knot them ?” 

“No.” 

“Then I shall just have to go off and hide somewhere till dawn, 
when the milk train leaves. Good-bye, Bertie. You have disap- 
pointed me.” 

“You have disappointed me. I thought you had guts.” 

“I have, and I don’t want Roderick Spode fooling about with 
them.” 

He gave me another of those dying-newt looks, and opened the 
door cautiously. A glance up and down the passage having 
apparently satisfied hrm that it was, for the moment, Spodeless, 
he slipped out and was gone- And I returned to my book. It was 
the only thing I could think of that would keep me from sitting 
torturing myself with agonizing broodings. 

Presently I was aware that Jeeves was with me. I hadn’t heard 
him come in, but you often don’t with Jeeves. He just streams 
silently from spot A to spot B, like some gas. 



* 7 * 


I wouldn’t say that Jeeves was actually smirking^ but there was 
a definite look of quiet satisfaction on his face^ and I suddenly 
remembered what this sickening scene with Gussiehad caused me 
to forget — ^viz. that the last time I had seen him, he had been on 
his way to the telephone to ring up the Secretary of the Junior 
Ganymede Club. I sprang to my feet eagerly- Unless I had mis- 
read that look, he had something to report. 

“Did you connect with the Sec., Jeeves ?” 

“Yes, sir, I have just finished speaking to him.” 

“And did he dish the dirt ?” 

“He was most informative, sir.” 

“Has Spode a secret ?” 

“Yes, sir.” 

I srQOte the trouser leg emotionally. 

“I should have known better than to doubt Aunt Dahlia. Aunts 
always know. It’s a sort of intuition. TeU me all.” 

“I fear I cannot do that, sir. The rules of the club regarding 
the dissemination of material recorded in the book are very 
rigid.” 

“You mean your lips are sealed?” 

“Yes, sir.” 

“Then what was the use of telephoning ?” 

“It is only the details of the matter which I am precluded from 
mentioning, sir. I am at perfect liberty to tell you that it would 
greatly lessen Mr. Spode’s potentiality for evU, if you were to 
inform him that you know aU about Eulalie, sir.” 

“Eulalie?” 

“EulaHe, sir.” 

“That would really put the stopper on him ?” 

“Yes, sir.” 

I pondered. It didn’t sound much to go on, 

“You’re sure you can’t go a bit deeper into the subject ?” 
“Quite sure, sir. Were I to do so, it is probable that my resig- 
nation would be called for.” 


103 



104 


THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


“Well, I wouldn’t want that to happen, of course,” I hated to 
think of a squad of butlers forming a hollow square while the 
Committee snipped his buttons off. “Still, you really are sure thgt 
if I look Spode in the eye and spring this gag, he will be baffled ? 
Let’s get quite dear. Suppose you’re Spode, and I walk up 
to you and say ‘Spode, I know all about Eulalie,’ that would TnaVt. 
you wilt?” 

“Yes, sir. The subject of Eulalie, sir, is one which the gentle- 
man, occupying the position he does in the public eye, would, I 
am convinced, be most reluctant to have ventilated.” 

I practised it for a bit. I walked up to the chest of drawers with 
my hands in my pockets, and said “Spode, I know all about 
Eulalie.” I tried it again, waggling my finger this time. I then had 
a go vrith folded arms, and I must say it still didn’t sound too 
convincing. 

However, I told myself that Jeeves always knew. 

“Well, if you say so, Jeeves. Then the fflst thing I had better 
do is find Gussie and give him this life-saving information.” 

“Sir ?” 

“Oh, of course, you don’t know an3rthing about that, do you ? 
I must tell you, Jeeves, that, since we last met, the plot has 
thickened again. Were you aware that Spode has long loved Ailiss 
Bassett ?” 

“No, sir.” 

“Well, such is the case. The happiness of Miss Bassett is very 
dear to Spode, and now that her engagement has gone phut for 
reasons highly discreditable to the male contracting party, he 
wants to break Gussie’s neck.” 

“Indeed, sir?” 

“I assure you. He was in here just now, speaking of it, and 
Gussie, who happened to be under the bed at the time, heard 
hkn. With the result that he now talks of getting out of the window 
md going to California. Which, of course, would be fatal. It is 
imperative that he stays on and tries to effect a reconciliation.” 

“Yes, sir.” 

“He can’t effect a reconciliation, if he is in California.” 

“No, sir.” 

“So I must go and try to find him. Though, mark you, I doubt 
if he will be easily found at this point in his career. He is probably 
on the roof, wondering how he can puli it up after him.” 

My misgivings were proved abundantly justified. I searched 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


105 


the house assiduously, but there were no signs of him. Some- 
where, no doubt, Totleigh Towers hid Au^stus Fink-Nottle, 
but it kept its secret well. Eventually, I gave it up, and returned 
to my room, and stap my vitals if the first thing I beheld on 
entering wasn’t the man in person. He was s tanding by the bed, 
knotting sheets. 

The fact that he had his back to the door and that the carpet 
was soft kept him ftom being aware of my entry till I spoke. My 
“Hey!” — a pretty sharp one, for I was aghast at seeing my bed 
thus messed about — ^brought him spinning round, ashen to the 
lips. 

“Woof!” he exdaimed. “I thought you were Spode!” 

Indignation succeeded panic. He gave me a hard stare. The 
eyes behind the spectacles were cold. He looked like an annoyed 
turbot. 

“What do you mean, you blasted Wooster,” he demanded, “by 
sneaking up on a fellow and saying ‘Hey!’ like that? You might 
have given me heart failure.” 

“And what do you mean, you blighted Fink-Notde,” I de- 
manded in my turn, “by mucking up my bed-linen after I 
specifically forbade it ? You have sheets of your own. Go and knot 
those.” 

“How can I ? Spode is sitting on my bed.” 

“He is ?” 

“Certainly he is. Waiting for me. I went there after I left you, 
and there he was. If he hadn’t happened to clear his throat, I’d 
have walked right in.” 

I saw that it was high time to set this disturbed spirit at rest. 

“You needn’t be afraid of Spode, Gussie.” 

“What do you mean, I needn’t be afraid of Spode? Talk 
sense.” 

“I mean just that. Spode, qua menace, if qua is the word I want, 
is a thing of the past. Owing to the extraordinary perfection of 
Jeeves’s secret service system, I have learned something about 
him which he wouldn’t care to have generally known.” 

“What?” 

“Ah, there you have me. When I said I had learned it, I should 
have said that Jeeves had learned it, and unfortunately Jeeves’s 
lips are sealed. However, I am in a position to slip it across the 
man in no uncertain fashion. If he attempts any rough stuff, I will 
give him the works.” I broke off, listening. Footsteps were coming 



106 


THE CO0E OF THE WOOSTERS 


along the passage. “Ah I” I said. “Someone approaches. This may 
quite possibly be the blighter himself.” 

An animal cry escaped Gussie. 

“Lock that door!” 

I waved a fairly airy hand. 

“It will not be necessary,” I said. “Let him come. I positively 
welcome this visit. Watch me deal with him, Gussie. It amuse 
you.” 

I had guessed correctly. It was Spode, aU right. No doubt he 
had grown weary of sitting on Gussie’s bed, and had felt that 
another chat with Bertram might serve to vary the monotony. He 
came in, as before, without knocking, and as he perceived Gussie, 
uttered a wordless exclamation of triumph and satisfaction. He 
then stood for a moment, breathing heavily through the nostrils. 

He seemed to have grown a bit since our last meeting, being 
now about eight foot six, and had my advices in re getting the 
bulge on him proceeded from a less authoritative source, his aspect 
might have intimidated me quite a good deal. But so sedulously 
had I been trained through the years to rely on Jeeves’s lightest 
word that I regarded him without a tremor. 

Gussie, I was sorry to observe, did not share my sunny con- 
fidence. Possibly I had not given him a full enough explanation of 
the facts in the case, or it may have been that, confronted with 
Spode in the flesh, his nerve had failed him. At any rate, he now 
retreated to the wall and seemed, as far as I could gather, to be 
tr3dng to get through it. Foiled in this endeavour, he stood looking 
as if he had been stuffed by some good taxidermist, while I turned 
to the intruder and gave him a long, level stare, in which surprise 
and hauteur were nicely blended. 

“Well, Spode,” I said, “what is it now ?” 

I had put a considerable amount of top spin on the final word, 
to indicate displeasure, but it was wasted on the man. Giving the 
question a miss like the deaf adder of Scripture, he began to 
advance slowly, his gaze concentrated on Gussie. The jaw muscles, 
I noted, were working as they had done on the occasion when he 
had come upon me toying with Sir Watkyn Bassett’s collection 
of old silver: and something in his manner suggested that he 
might at any moment start beating his chest with a hollow, 
drumming sound, as gorillas do in moments of emotion. 

“Hal” he said. 

Well, of course, I was not going to stand any rot like that. This 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 107 

habit of his of going about the place saying ‘‘Ha!” was one that 
had got to be checked^ and checked promptly. 

“Spode!” I said sharply^ and I have an idea that I rapped the 
table. 

He seemed for the first time to become aware of my presence. 
He paused for an instant^ and gave me an xmpleasant look. 

“Well^ what do you want ?” 

I raised an eyebrow or two. 

“What do I want? I like that. That’s good. Since you ask, 
Spode, I want to know what the devil you mean by keeping coming 
into my private apartment, taking up space which I require for 
other purposes and interrupting me when I am chatting with my 
personal friends. Really, one gets about as much privacy in this 
house as a strip-tease dancer. I assume that you have a room of 
your own. Get back to it, you fat slob, and stay there.” 

I could not resist shooting a swift glance at Gussie, to see how 
he was taking all this, and was pleased to note on his face the 
burgeoning of a look of worshipping admiration, such as a dis- 
tressed damsel of the Middle Ages might have directed at a knight 
on observing him getting down to brass tacks with the dragon. 
I could see that I had once more become to him the old Daredevil 
Wooster of our boyhood days, and I had no doubt that he was 
burning with shame and remorse as he recalled those sneers and 
jeers of his. 

Spode, also, seemed a good deal impressed, though not so 
favourably. He was staring incredulously, like one bitten by a 
rabbit. He seemed to be asking himself if this could really be the 
shrinking violet with whom he had conferred on the terrace. 

He asked me if I had called him a slob, and I said I had. 

“A fat slob ?” 

“A fat slob. It is about time,” I proceeded, “that some public- 
spirited person came along and told you where you got off. The 
trouble with you, Spode, is that just because you have succeeded 
in inducing a handful of half-wits to disfigure the London scene 
by going about in black shorts, you think you’re someone. You 
hear them shouting ‘Heil, Spode!’ and you imagine it is the Voice 
of the People. That is where you make your bloomer. What the 
Voice of the People is saying is: ‘Look at that frightful ass Spode 
swanking about in footer bags! Did you ever in your puff see 
such a perfect perisher ?’ ” 

He did what is known as struggling for utterance. 



108 THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 

“Oh ?” he said. “Ha! Well, I will attend to you later.” 

“And I,” I retorted, quick as a flash, “will attend to you now.” 
I lit a cigarette. “Spode,” I said, unmasking my batteries, “I know 
your secret!” 

“Eh?” 

“I know all about ” 

“AU about what ?” 

It was to ask myself precisely that question that I had paused. 
For, believe me or believe me not, in this tense moment, when I 
so sorely needed it, the name which Jeeves had mentioned to me 
as the magic formula for coping with this blister had completely 
passed &om my mind. I coulchi’t even remember what letter it 
began with. 

It’s an extraordinary thing about names. You’ve probably 
noticed it yourself. You think you’ve got them, I mean to say, 
and they simply slither away. I’ve often wished I had a quid for 
every time some bird with a perfectly fanaMar map has come up 
to me and Hullo-Woostered, and had me gasping for air because 
I couldn’t put a label to him. This always makes one feel at a 
loss, but on no previous occasion had I felt so much at a loss as 
I did now. 

“All about what ?” said Spode. 

“Well, as a matter of fact,” I had to confess, “I’ve forgotten.” 

A sort of gasping gulp ftom up-stage directed my attention to 
Gussie again, and I could see that the significance of my words 
had not been lost on him. Once more he tried to back: and as he 
realized that he had already gone as far as he could go, a glare of 
despair came into his eyes. And then, abruptly, as Spode began 
to advance upon him, it changed to one of determination and 
stem resolve. 

I like to think of Augustus Fink-Notde at that moment. He 
showed up well. Hitherto, I am bound to say, I had never regarded 
him highly as a man of action. Essentially the dreamer type, I 
should have said. But now he couldn’t have smacked into it with 
a prompter gusto if he had been a rough-and-tumble fighter on 
the San Francisco waterfront from early childhood. 

Above him, as he stood glued to the wall, there hung a fairish- 
sized oil-painting of a chap in knee-breeches and a three-cornered 
hat gazing at a female who appeared to be chirruping to a bird 
of sorts — a dove, uidess I am mistaken, or a pigeon. I had noticed 
it once or twice since I had been in the room, and had, indeed. 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


109 


thought of giving it to Aunt Dahlia to break instead of the Infant 
Samuel at Prayer. Fortunately, I had not done so, or Gussie 
would not now have been in a position to tear it from its moorings 
and bring it down with a nice wristy action on Spode^s head. 

I say “fortunately,” because if ever there was a fellow who 
needed hitting with oil-paintings, that fellow was Roderick Spode. 
From the moment of our first meeting, his every word and action 
had proved abundantly that this was the stuiF to give him. But 
there is always a catch in these good things, and it took me only 
an instant to see that this effort of Gussie’s, though well meant, 
had achieved little of constructive importance. What he should 
have done, of course, was to hold the picture sideways, so as to 
get the best out of the stout frame. Instead of which, he had used 
die flat of the weapon, and Spode came through the canvas like 
a circus rider going through a paper hoop. In other words, what 
had promised to be a decisive blow had turned out to be merely 
what Jeeves would call a gesture. 

It did, however, divert Spode from his purpose for a few 
seconds. He stood there blinking, with the thing round his neck 
like a ruff, and the pause was sufficient to enable me to get action. 

Give us a lead, make it quite clear to us that the party has 
warmed up and that from now on anything goes, and we Woosters 
do not hang back. There was a sheet lying on the bed where 
Gussie had dropped it when disturbed at his knotting, and to 
snatch this up and envelop Spode in it was with me the work of a 
moment. It is a long time since I studied the subject, and before 
committing myself definitely I should have to consult Jeeves, but 
I have an idea that ancient Roman gladiators used to do much 
the same sort of thing in the arena, and were rather well thought 
of in consequence. 

I suppose a man who has been hit over the head with a picture 
of a girl chirruping to a pigeon and almost immediately afterwards 
enmeshed in a sheet can never really retain the cool, intelligent 
outlook. Any friend of Spode’s, with his interests at heart, would 
have advised him at this juncture to keep quite still and not stir 
till he had come out of the cocoon. Only thus, in a terrain so 
liberally studded with chairs and things, could a purler have been 
avoided. 

He did not do this. Hearing the rushing sound caused by 
Gussie exiting, he made a leap in its general direction and took 
the inevitable toss. At the moment when Gussie, moving well, 



110 


THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


passed through the door^ he was on the ground, more inextricably 
entangled than ever. 

My own friends, advising me, would undoubtedly have re- 
commended an immediate departure at this point, and looking 
back, I can see that where I went wrong was in pausing to hit the 
bulge which, from the remarks that were coming through at that 
spot, I took to be Spode’s head, with a china vase that stood on 
the mantelpiece not far from where the Infant Samuel had been. 
It was a strategical error. I got home all right and the vase broke 
into a dozen pieces, which was all to the good — ^for the more of 
the property of a man like Sir Watkyn Bassett that was destroyed, 
the better — ^but the action of dealing this buffet caused me to 
overbalance. The next moment, a hand coming out from under 
the sheet had grabbed my coat. 

It was a serious disaster, of course, and one which might well 
have caused a lesser man to feel that it was no use going on 
struggling. But the whole point about the Woosters, as I have 
had occasion to remark before, is that they are not lesser men. 
They keep their heads. They think quickly, and they act quickly. 
Napoleon was the same. I have mentioned that at the moment 
when I was preparing to inform Spode that I knew his secret, I 
had lighted a cigarette. This cigarette, in its holder, was still 
between my lips. Hastily removing it, I pressed the glowing end 
on the ham-like hand which was impeding my getaway. 

The results were thoroughly gratifying. You would have 
thought that the trend of recent events would have put Roderick 
Spode in a frame of mind to expect anything and be ready for it, 
but this simple manoeuvre found him unprepared. With a sharp 
cry of anguish, he released the coat, and I delayed no longer. 
Bertram Wooster is a man who knows when and when not to be 
among those present. When Bertram Wooster sees a lion in his 
path, he ducks down a side street. I was off at an impressive 
speed, and would no doubt have crossed the threshold with a 
burst which would have clipped a second or two off Gussie^s 
time, had I not experienced a head-on collision with a solid body 
which happened to be entering at the moment. I remember 
thinking, as we twined our arms about each other, that at Totleigh 
Towers, if it wasn^t one thing, it was bound to be something else. 

I fancy that it was the scent of eau-de-Cologne that still clung 
to her temples that enabled me to identify this solid body as that 
of Aunt Dahlia, though even without it the rich, hunting-field 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 111 

expletive which burst from her lips would have put me on the 
right track. We came down in a tangled heap, and must have 
rolled inwards to some extent, for the next thing I knew, we were 
colliding with the sheeted figure of Roderick Spode, who when 
last seen had been at the other end of the room. No doubt the 
explanation is that we had rolled nor’-nor"-east and he had been 
rolling sou’-sou’-west, with the result that we had come together 
somewhere in the middle. 

Spode, I noticed, as reason began to return to her throne, was 
holding Aunt DahUa by the left leg, and she didn’t seem to be 
liking it much. A good deal of breath had been knocked out of 
her by the impact of a nephew on her midriff, but enough re- 
mained to enable her to expostulate, and this she was doing with 
all the old fire. 

^^What is this joint ?” she was demanding heatedly. ‘‘A loony- 
bin? Has everybody gone crazy? First I meet Spink-Botde 
racing along the corridor like a mustang. Then you try to walk 
through me as if I were thistledown. And now the gentleman in 
the burnous has started tickling my ankle — a thing that hasn’t 
happened to me since the York and Ainsty Hunt of the year 

nineteen-twenty-one.” 

These protests must have filtered through to Spode, and pre- 
sumably stirred his better nature, for he let go, and she got up, 
dusting her dress. 

“Now, then,” she said, somewhat calmer. “An explanation, if 
you please, and a categorical one. What’s the idea ? What’s it all 
about? Who the devil’s that inside the winding-sheet?” 

I made the introductions. 

“You’ve met Spode, haven’t you ? Mr. Roderick Spode, Mrs. 
Travers.” 

Spode had now removed the sheet, but the picture was still in 
position, and Aunt Dahlia eyed it wonderingly. 

“What on earth have you got that thing round your neck for ?” 
she asked. Then, in more tolerant vein: “Wear it if you like, of 
course, but it doesn’t suit you.” 

Spode did not reply. He was breathing heavily. I didn’t blame 
him, mind you — ^in his place, I’d have done the same — ^but the 
sound was not agreeable, and I wished he wouldn’t. He was also 
gazing at me intently, and I wished he wouldn’t do that, either. 
His face was flushed, his eyes were bulging, and one had the odd 
illusion that his hair was standing on end — ^like quills upon the 



112 


THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


fretful porpentine, as Jeeves once put it when describing to me 
the reactions of Barmy Fotheringay-Phipps on seeing a dead snip, 
on which he had invested largely, come in sixth in the procession 
at the Newmarket Spring Meeting. 

I remember once, during a temporary rift with Jeeves, engaging 
a man from the registry office to serve me in his stead, and he 
hadn’t been with me a week when he got blotto one night and 
set fire to the house and tried to slice me up with a carving-knife. 
Said he wanted to see the colour of my insides, of all bizarre ideas. 
And until this moment I had always looked on that episode as the 
most trying in my experience. I now saw that it must be ranked 
second. 

This bird of whom I speak was a simple, untutored soul and 
Spode a man of good education and upbringing, but it was plain 
that there was one point at which their souls touched. I don’t 
suppose they would have seen eye to eye on any other subject you 
could have brought up, but in the matter of wanting to see the 
colour of my insides dieir minds ran on parallel lines. The only 
difference seemed to be that whereas my employee had planned 
to use a carving-knife for his excavations, Spode appeared to be 
satisfied that the job could be done all right with the bare hands. 

“I must ask you to leave us, madam,” he said. 

“But I’ve only just come,” said Aunt Dahlia. 

“I am going to thrash this man within an inch of his life.” 

It was quite the wrong tone to take with the aged relative. She 
has a very clannish spirit and, as I have said, is fond of Bertram. 
Her brow darkened. 

“You don’t touch a nephew of mine.” 

“I am going to break every bone in his body.” 

“You aren’t going to do anything of the sort. The idea! . . . 
Here, you!” 

She raised her voice sharply as she spoke the concluding words, 
and what had caused her to do so was the fact that Spode at this 
moment made a sudden move in my direction. 

^ Considering the manner in which his eyes were gleaming and 
lus moustache bristling, not to mention the gritting teeth and the 
sinister twiddling of the fingers, it was a move which might have 
been expected to send me flitting away like an adagio dancer. 
And had it occurred somewhat earlier, it would undoubtedly 
have done so. But I did not flit. I stood where I was, calm and 
collected. Whether I folded my arms or not, I cannot recall, but 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


113 


I remember that there was a faint, amused smile upon my lips. 

For that brief monosyllable "^you’" had accomplished what a 
quarter of an hour’s research had been unable to do — viz. the 
unsealing of the fount of memory. Jeeves’s words came back to me 
with a rush. One moment, the mind a blank: the next, the fount 
of memory spouting like nobody’s business. It often happens this 
way. 

^‘'One minute, Spode,” I said quietly. ‘^Just one minute. Before 
you start getting at3ove yourself, it may interest you to learn that 
I know all about Eulalie.” 

It was stupendous. I felt like one of those chaps who press 
buttons and explode mines. If it hadn’t been that my implicit 
faith in Jeeves had led me to expect solid results, I should have 
been astounded at the effect of ^s pronouncement on the man. 
You could see that it had got right in amongst him and churned 
him up like an egg- whisk. He recoiled as if he had run into some- 
thing hot, and a look of horror and alarm spread slowly over his 
face. 

The whole situation recalled irresistibly to my mind something 
that had happened to me once up at Oxford, when the heart was 
young. It was during Eights Week, and I was sauntering on the 
river-bank with a girl named something that has slipped my mind, 
when there was a sound of barking and a large, hefty dog came 
galloping up, full of beans and buck and obviously intent on 
mayhem. And I was just commending my soul to God, and feeling 
that this was where the old flannel trousers got about thirty bobs’ 
worth of value bitten out of them, when the girl, waiting till 
she saw the whites of its eyes, with extraordinary presence of 
mind suddenly opened a coloured Japanese umbrella in the 
animal’s face. Upon which, it did three back somersaults and 
retired into private hfe. 

Except that he didn’t do any back somersaults, Roderick 
Spode’s reactions were almost identical with those of this non- 
plussed hound. For a moment, he just stood gaping. Then he 
said “Oh ?” Then his lips twisted into what I took to be his idea 
of a conciliatory smile. After that, he swallowed six — or it may 
have been seven — ^times, as if he had taken aboard a fish bone. 
Finally, he spoke. And when he did so, it was the nearest thing 
to a cooing dove that I have ever heard — ^and an exceptionally 
mild-mannered dove, at that. 

“Oh, do you ?” he said. 



114 


THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


“I do,” I replied. 

If he had asked me what I knew about her, he would have had 
me stymied, but he didn't. 

‘‘Er — ^how did you find out ?" 

‘‘I have my methods.” 

‘‘Oh?” he said. 

“Ah,” I replied, and there was silence again for a moment. 

I wouldn't have believed it possible for so tough an egg to sidle 
obsequiously, but that was how he now sidled up to me. There was 
a pleading look in his eyes. 

“I hope you will keep this to yourself, Wooster ? You will keep 
it to yourself, won't you, Wooster ?” 

“I will ” 

“Thank you, Wooster.” 

“ — ^provided,” I continued, “that we have no more of these 
extraordinary exhibitions on your part of— what’s the word ?” 

He sidled a bit closer. 

“Of course, of course. I’m afraid I have been acting rather 
hastily.” He reached out a hand and smoothed my sleeve. “Did 
I rumple your coat, Wooster ? I’m sorry. I forgot myself. It shall 
not happen again.” 

“It had better not. Good Lord! Grabbing fellows’ coats and 
saying you’re going to break chaps’ bones. I never heard of such 
a thing.” 

“I know, I know. I was wrong.” 

“You bet you were wrong, I shall be very sharp on that sort 
of thing in the future, Spode.” 

“Yes, yes, I understand.” 

“I have not been at all satisfied with your behaviour since I 
came to this house. The way you were looking at me at dinner. 
You may think people don’t notice these things, but they do.” 

“Of course, of course.” 

“And calling me a miserable worm.” 

“I’m sorry I called you a miserable worm, Wooster. I spoke 
without thiiiking.” 

“Always think, Spode. Well, that is all. You may withdraw.” 

“Good night, Wooster.” 

“Good night, Spode.” 

He hurried out with bowed head, and I turned to Aunt Dahlia, 
who was making noises like a motor-bicycle in the back ground. 
She gazed at me with the air of one who has been seeing visions. 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS liS 

And I suppose the whole affair must have been extraordinarily 
impressive to the casual bystander. 

^‘WeU, I’ll be ” 

Here she paused — ^fortunately, perhaps, for she is a woman 
who, when strongly moved, sometimes has a tendency to forget 
that she is no longer in the hunting-field, and the verb, had she 
given it utterance, might have proved a bit too fruity for mixed 
company. 

‘'Bertie! What was all that about?” 

I waved a nonchalant hand. 

"Oh, I just put it across the fellow. Merely asserting myself. 
One has to take a firm line with chaps like Spode.” 

“Who is this Eulalie ?” 

“Ah, there you’ve got me. For information on that point you 
will have to apply to Jeeves. And it won’t be any good, because 
the club rules are rigid and members are permitted to go only 
just so far. Jeeves,” I went on, giving credit where credit was due, 
as is my custom, “came to me some little while back and told me 
that I had only to inform Spode that I knevr all about Eulalie 
to cause him to curl up like a burnt feather. And a burnt feather, 
as you have seen, was precisely what he did curl up like. As to 
who the above may be, I haven’t the foggiest. All that one can 
say is that she is a chunk of Spode’s past — ^and, one fears, a highly 
discreditable one.” 

I sighed, for I was not unmoved. 

“One can fill in the picture for oneself, I think. Aunt Dahlia ? 
The trusting girl who learned too late that men betray . . . the 
little bundle . . . the last mournful walk to the river-bank . . . 
the splash . . . the bubbling cry ... I fancy so, don’t you? 
No wonder the man pales beneath the tan a bit at the idea of the 
world knowing of that.” 

Aunt Dahlia drew a deep breath. A sort of Soul’s Awakening 
look had come into her face. 

“Good old blackmail! You can’t beat it. I’ve always said so 
and I always shall. It works like magic in an emergency. Bertie,” 
she cried, “do you realize what this means ?” 

“Means, old relative ?” 

“Now that you have got the goods on Spode, the only obstacle 
to your sneaking that cow-creamer has been removed. You can 
stroll down and collect it to-night.” 

I shook my head regretfully. I had been afraid she was going 



116 THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 

to take that view of the matter. It compelled me to dash the cup of 
joy from her lips, always an unpleasant thing to have to do to an 
aunt who dandled one on her knee as a cMd. 

“No,” I said. “There you’re wrong. There, if you wiU excuse 
me saying so, you are talking like a fathead. Spode may have 
ceased to be a danger to trafl&c, but that doesn’t alter the fact that 
Stifify still has the notebook. Before taking any steps in the direc- 
tion of the cow-creamer, I have got to get it.” 

“But why ? Oh, but I suppose you haven’t heard. Madeline 
Bassett has broken off her engagement with Spink-Bottle. She 
told me so in the strictest confidence just now. Well, then. The 
snag before was that young Stephanie might cause the engage- 
ment to be broken by showing old Bassett the book. But if tfs 

broken already ” 

I shook the bean again. 

“My dear old faulty reasoner,” I said, “you miss the gist by 
a mile. As long as Sti^ retains that book, it cannot be shown to 
Madeline Bassett. And only by showing it to Madeline Bassett 
can Gussie prove to her that his motive in pinching Stifify’s legs 
was not what she supposed. And only by proving to her that his 
motive was not what she supposed can he square himself and 
effect a reconciliation. And only if he squares himself and effects 
a reconciliation can I avoid the distasteful necessity of having to 
marry this bally Bassett myself. No, I repeat. Before doing any- 
thing else, I have got to have that book.” 

My pitiless analysis of the situation had its effect. It was plain 
from her manner that she had got the strength. For a space, she 
sat chewing the lower lip in silence, frowning like an aunt who 
has drained the bitter cup. 

“Well, how are you going to get it ?” 

“I propose to search her room.” 

“What’s the good of that ?” 

“My dear old relative, Gussie’s investigations have already 
revealed that the thing is not on her person. Reasoning closely, 
we reach the conclusion that it must be in her room.” 

“Yes, but, you poor ass, whereabouts in her room ? It may be 
anywhere. And wherever it is, you can be jolly sure it’s carefully 
hidden. I suppose you hadn’t thought of that.” 

As a matter of fact, I hadn’t, and I imagine that my sharp 
“Oh ah!” must have revealed this, for she snorted like a bison at 
the water-trough. 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


117 


‘‘No doubt you thought it would be lying out on the dressing- 
table. All rights search her room^ if you l&e. There’s no actual 
harm in it, I suppose. It will give you something to do and keep 
you out of the public houses. I, meanwhile, wiU be going off and 
starting to think of something sensible. It’s time one of us did.” 

Pausing at the mantelpiece to remove a china horse which stood 
there and hurl it to the floor and jump on it, she passed along. 
And I, somewhat discomposed, for I had thought I had got 
everything neatly plaimed out and it was a bit of a jar to find that 
I hadn’t, sat down and began to bend the brain. 

The longer I bent it the more I was forced to admit that the 
flesh and blood had been right. Looking round this room of my 
own, I could see at a glance a dozen places where, if I had had a 
small object to hide like a leather-covered notebook full of 
criticisms of old Bassett’s method of drinking soup, I could have 
done so with ease. Presumably, the same conditions prevailed in 
StiiFy’s lair. In going thither, therefore, I should be embarking 
on a quest well calculated to baffle the brightest bloodhound, let 
alone a chap who from childhood up had always been rotten at 
hunt-the-slipper. 

To give the brain a rest before having another go at the 
problem, I took up my goose-flesher again. And, by Jove, I 
hadn’t read more than half a page when I uttered a cry. I had 
come upon a significant passage. 

“Jeeves,” I said, addressing him as he entered a moment later, 
“I have come upon a significant passage.” 

“Sir?” 

I saw that I had been too abrupt, and that footnotes would be 
required. 

“In this thriller I’m reading,” I explained. “But wait. Before 
showing it to you, I would like to pay you a stately tribute on the 
accuracy of your information re Spode. A hearty vote of thanks, 
Jeeves. You said the name Eulalie would make him wilt, and it did. 
Spode, qua menace ... is it qua ?” 

“Yes, sir. Quite correct.” 

“I thought so. WeU, Spode, qua menace, is a spent egg. He has 
dropped out and ceased to function.” 

“That is very gratif^g, sir.” 

“Most. But we are still faced by this Becher’s Brook, that young 
Stiffy continues in possession of the notebook. That notebook, 
Jeeves, must be located and re-snitched before we are free to 



il8 


THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


move in any other direction. Aunt Dahlia has just left in des- 
pondent mood, because, while she concedes that the damned 
thing is almost certainly concealed in the little pimple’s sleeping 
quarters, she sees no hope of fingers being able to be laid upon it. 
She says it may be anywhere and is undoubtedly carefully 
hidden.” 

‘"That is the difficulty, sir.” 

“Quite. But that is where this significant passage comes in. 
It points the way and sets the feet upon the right path. I’ll read 
it to you. The detective is speaking to his pal, and the ‘they’ 
refers to some bounders at present unidentified, who have been 
ransacking a girl’s room, hoping to find the missing jewels. 
Listen attentively, Jeeves. ‘They seem to have looked every- 
where, my dear Postlethwaite, except in the one place where they 
might have expected to find something. Amateurs, Postlethwaite, 
raids amateurs. They never thought of the top of the cupboard, 
the thing any experienced crook thinks of at once, because’ — 
note carefully what follows — ‘because he knows it is every 
woman’s favourite hiding-place.’ ” 

I eyed him keenly. 

“You see the profound significance of that, Jeeves ?” 

“If I interpret your meaning aright, sir, you are suggesting 
that Mr. Fink-Nottle’s notebook may be concealed at the top of 
the cupboard in Miss Byng’s apartment ?” 

“Not ‘may’, Jeeves, ‘must’. I don’t see how it can be concealed 
anywhere else but. That detective is no fool. If he says a thing is 
so, it is so. I have the utmost confidence in the fellow, and am 
prepared to foUow his lead without question.” 

“But surely, sir, you are not proposing ” 

“Yes, I am. I’m going to do it immediately. Stiffy has gone to 
the Working Men’s Institute, and won’t be back for ages. It’s 
absurd to suppose that a gaggle of Village Mothers are going to 
be sated with coloured slides of the Holy Land, plus piano 
accompaniment, in anything under two hours. So now is the time 
to operate while the coast is clear. Gird up your loins, Jeeves, 
and accompany me,” 

“Well, really, sir ” 

“And don’t say ‘Well, really, sir’. I have had occasion to rebuke 
you before for this habit of yours of saying ‘Well, really, sir’ in 
a soupy sort of voice, when I indicate some strategic line of action. 
What I want from you is less of the ‘Well, really, sir’ and more of 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 119 

the buckling-to spirit. Think feudally, Jeeves. Do you know 
Stiffy’s room ?” 

‘Tes, sir.” 

“Then Ho for it!” 

I cannot say, despite the courageous dash which I had exhibited 
in the above slab of dialogue, that it was in any too bobbish a 
frame of mind that I made my way to our destination. In fact, 
the nearer I got, the less bobbish I felt. It had been just the same 
the time I allowed myself to be argued by Roberta Wickham into 
going and puncturing that hot-water bottle. I hate these surrep- 
titious prowlings. Bertram Wooster is a man who likes to go 
through the world with his chin up and both feet on the ground, 
not to sneak about on tiptoe with his spine tying itself into reefer 
knots. 

It was precisely because I had anticipated some such reactions 
that I had been so anxious that Jeeves should accompany me and 
lend moral support, and I found myself wishing that he would 
buck up and lend a bit more than he was doing. Willmg service 
and selfless co-operation were what I had hoped for, and he was 
not giving me them. His manner from the very start betrayed an 
aloof disapproval. He seemed to be dissociating himself entirely 
from the proceedings, and I resented it. 

Owing to this aloofness on his part and this resentment on 
mine, we made the journey in silence, and it was in silence that 
we entered the room and switched on the light. 

The first impression I received on giving the apartment the 
once-over was that for a young shrimp of her shaky moral outlook 
Stiffy had been done pretty well in the matter of sleeping accom- 
modation. Totleigh Towers was one of those country houses 
which had been built at a time when people planning a Httie nest 
had the idea that a bedroom was not a bedroom unless you 
could give an informal dance for about fifty couples in it, and this 
sanctum could have accommodated a dozen Stiffys. In the rays 
of the small electric light up in the ceiling, the baUy thing seemed 
to stretch for miles in every direction, and the thought that if 
that detective had not called his shots correctly, Gussie’s note- 
book might be concealed anywhere in these great spaces, was a 
dulling one. 

I was standing there, hoping for the best, when my meditations 
were broken in upon by an odd, gargling sort of noise, something 
like static and something like distant thunder, and to cut a long 



120 


THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


Story short this proved to proceed from the larynx of the dog 
Bartholomew. 

He was standing on the bed, stropping his front paws on the 
coverlet, and so easy was it to read the message in his eyes that 
we acted like two minds with but a single thought. At the exact 
moment when I soared like an eagle on to the chest of drawers, 
Jeeves was skimming like a swallow on to the top of the cupboard. 
The anhnal hopped from the bed and, advancing into the middle 
of the room, took a seat, breathing through the nose with a 
ctirious whistling sound, and looking at us from under his eye- 
brows like a Scottish elder rebuking sin from the pulpit. 

And there for a while the matter rested. 



8 


J EEVES was the first to break a rather strained silence. 

“The book does not appear to be here, sir.” 

“Eh?” 

“I have searched the top of the cupboard, sir, but I have not 
found the book.” 

It may be that my reply erred a trifle on the side of acerbity. 
My narrow escape fi:om those slavering jaws had left me a bit 
edgy. 

“Blast the book, Jeeves! What about this dog?” 

“Yes, sir.” 

“What do you mean — ^Yes, sir?” 

“I was endeavouring to convey that I appreciate the point 
which you have raised, sir. The animars unexpected appearance 
imquestionably presents a problem. While he continues to main- 
tain his existing attitude, it will not be easy for us to prosecute 
the search for Mr. Fiiik-Nottle^s notebook. Our freedom of 
action will necessarily be circumscribed,” 

“Then whatis to be done ?” 

“It is difl&cult to say, sir.” 

“You have no ideas ?” 

“No, sir.” 

I could have said something pretty bitter and stinging at this — 
I don^t know what, but something — ^but I refrained. I realized 
that it was rather tough on the man, outstanding though his gifts 
were, to expect him to ring the bell every time, without fail. No 
doubt that brilliant inspiration of his which had led to my signal 
victory over the forces of darkness as represented by R. Spode 
had t^en it out of him a good deal, rendering the brain for the 
nonce a bit flaccid. One co^d but wait and hope that the machin- 
ery would soon get going again, enabling him to seek new high 
levels of achievement. 

And, I felt as I continued to turn the position of affairs over 
in my mind, the sooner, the better, for it was plain that nothing 
was going to budge this canine excrescence except an offensive 
on a major scale, dashingly conceived and skilfuUy carried out. 

121 



122 


THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


I don’t think I have ever seen a dog who conveyed more vividly 
the impression of being rooted to the spot and prepared to stay 
there till the cows — or, in this case, his proprietress — came home. 
And what I was going to say to Stiffy if she returned and found 
me roosting on her chest of drawers was something I had not 
yet thought out in any exactness of detail. 

Watching the animal sitting there like a bump on a log, I soon 
found myself chafing a good deal. I remember Freddie Widgeon, 
who was once chased on to the top of a wardrobe by an Alsatian 
during a country house visit, telling me that what he had disliked 
most about the thing was the indignity of it all — ^the blow to the 
proud spirit, if you know what I mean — ^the feeling, in fine, that 
he, the Heir of the Ages, as you might say, was camping out on a 
wardrobe at the whim of a bally dog. 

It was the same with me. One doesn’t want to make a song and 
dance about one’s ancient lineage, of course, but after aU the 
Woosters did come over with the Conqueror and were extremely 
pally with him: and a fat lot of good it is coming over with 
Conquerors, if you’re simply going to wind up by being given 
the elbow by Aberdeen terriers. 

These reflections had the effect of making me rather peevish, 
and I looked down somewhat sourly at the animal. 

‘T call it monstrous, Jeeves,” I said, voicing my train of 
thought, “that this dog should be lounging about in a bedroom. 
Most unhygienic.” 

“Yes, sir.” 

“Scotties are smelly, even the best of them. You will recall 
how my Aunt Agatha’s McIntosh niffed to heaven while enjoying 
my hospitafity. I frequently mentioned it to you.” 

“Yes, sir.” 

“And this one is even riper. He should obviously have been 
bedded out in the stables. Upon my Sam, what with Scotties in 
Stiffy’s room and newts in Gussie’s, Totleigh Towers is not far 
short of being a lazar house.” 

“No, sir.” 

“And consider the matter from another angle,” I said, warming 
to my theme. “I refer to the danger of keeping a dog of this nature 
and disposition in a bedroom, where it can spring out ravening 
on anyone who enters. You and I happen to be able to take care 
of ourselves in an emergency such as has arisen, but suppose 
we had been some highly-strung housemaid.” 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


123 


“Yes, sir.” 

“I can see her coining into the room to turn down the bed. 
I picture her as a rather fragile girl with big eyes and a timid 
expression. She crosses the threshold. She approaches the bed. 
And out leaps this man-eating dog. One does not like to dwell 
upon the sequel,” 

“No, sir.” 

I frowned. 

“I wish,” I said, “that instead of sitting there saying Tes, sir’ 
and ‘No, sir’, Jeeves, you would do something.” 

“But what can I do, sir ?” 

“You can get action, Jeeves, That is what is required here — 
sharp, decisive action, I wonder if you recall a visit we once paid 
to the residence of my Aunt Agatha at WooUam Chersey in the 
county of Herts. To refresh your memory, it was the occasion 
on which, in company with the Right Honourable A. B. Filmer, 
the Cabinet Minister, I was chivvied on to the roof of a shack on 
the island in the lake by an angry swan.” 

“I recall the incident vividly, sir.” 

“So do I, And the picture most deeply imprinted on my mental 
retina — is that the correct expression ? ” 

“Yes, sir.” 

“ — ^is of you facing that swan in the most intrepid ‘You-can’t- 
do-that-there-here’ manner and bunging a raincoat over its head, 
thereby completely dishing its aims and plans and compelling 
it to revise its whole strategy from the bottom up. It was a beauti- 
ful bit of work. I don’t know when I have seen a finer.” 

“Thank you, sir. I am glad if I gave satisfaction.” 

“You certainly did, Jeeves, in heaping measure. And what 
crossed my mind was that a similar operation would make this 
dog feel pretty silly.” 

“No doubt, sir. But I have no raincoat.” 

“Then I would advise seeing what you can do with a sheet. 
And in case you are wondering if a sheet would work as well, I 
may tell you that just before you came to my room I had had 
admirable results with one in the case of Mr. Spode. He just 
couldn’t seem to get out of the thing.” 

“Indeed, sir?” 

“I assure you, Jeeves. You could wish no better weapon than 
a sheet. There are some on the bed,” 

“Yes, sir. On the bed.” 



124 


THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


There was a pause. I was loth to wrong the man, but if this 
wasn’t a nolle prosequi^ I didn’t know one when I saw one. The 
distant and unenthusiastic look on his face told me that I was 
right, and I endeavoured to sting his pride, rather as Gussie in 
our pourparlers in the matter of Spode had endeavoured to sting 
mine. 

‘‘Are you afraid of a tiny little dog, Jeeves ?” 

He corrected me respectfully, giving it as his opinion that the 
imdersigned was not a tiny little dog, but well above the average 
in muscular development. In particular, he drew my attention 
to the animal’s teeth. 

I reassured him. 

‘T think you would find that if you were to make a sudden 
spring, his teeth would not enter into the matter. You could leap 
on to Ae bed, snatch up a sheet, roll him up in it before he knew 
what was happening, and there we would be.” 

‘‘Yes, sir.” 

“WeU, are you going to make a sudden spring ?” 

“No, sir.” 

A rather stiff silence ensued, during which the dog Bartholomew 
continued to gaze at me unwinkingly, and once more I found 
myself noticing — and resenting — ^the superior, sanctimonious 
expression on his face. Nothing can ever render the experience 
of being treed on top of a chest of drawers by an Aberdeen terrier 
pleasant, but it seemed to me that the least you can expect on 
such an occasion is that the animal will meet you half-way and 
not drop salt into the wound by looking at you as if he were 
asking if you were saved. 

It was in the hope of wiping this look off his face that I now 
made a gesture. There was a stump of candle standing in the 
parent candlestick beside me, and I threw this at the little blighter. 
He ate it with every appearance of relish, took time out briefly 
in order to be sick, and resumed his silent stare. And at this 
moment the door opened and in came Stifify — ^hours before I had 
expected her. 

The first thing that impressed itself upon one on seeing her 
was that she was not in her customary buoyant spirits. Stiffy, as 
a rule, is a girl who moves jauntily from spot to spot — ^youthful 
elasticity is, I believe, the expression — but she entered now with 
a slow and dragging step like a Volga boatman. She cast a dull 
eye at us, and after a brief “Hullo, Bertie. Hullo, Jeeves,” seemed 



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125 


to dismiss us from her thoughts. She made for the dressing-table 
and, having removed her hat, sat looking at herself in the mirror 
with sombre eyes. It was plain that for some reason the soul had 
got a flat tyre, and seeing that unless I opened the conversation 
Siere was going to be one of those awkward pauses, I did so. 

“What ho, Stifiy.” 

“HuUo.” 

“Nice evening. Your dog’s just been sick on the carpet.” 

All this, of course, was merely by way of leading into lie main 
theme, which I now proceeded to broach. 

“Well, StiSy, I suppose you’re surprised to see us here ?” 

“No, I’m not. Have you been looking for that book ?” 

“Why, yes. That’s right. We have. Though, as a matter of 
fact, we hadn’t got really started. We were somewhat impeded by 
the bow-wow.” (Keeping it light, you notice. Always the best way 
on these occasions). “He took our entrance in the wrong spirit.” 

“Oh?” 

“Yes. Would it be asking too much of you to attach a stout 
lead to his collar, thus making the world safe for democracy ?” 

“Yes, it would.” 

“Surely you wish to save the lives of two fellow creatures ?” 

“No, I don’t. Not if they’re men. I loathe aU men. I hope 
Bartholomew bites you to the bone.” 

I saw that little was to be gained by approaching the matter 
from this angle. I switched to another point d’appui. 

“I wasn’t expecting you,” I said. "I thought you had gone to 
the Working Men’s Institute, to tidde the ivories in accompani- 
ment to old Stinker’s coloured lecture on the Holy Land.” 

“I did.” 

“Back early, aren’t you ?” 

“Yes. The lecture was off. Harold broke the slides.” 

“Oh?” I said, feeling that he was just the sort of chap who 
would break slides. “How did that happen ?” 

She passed a listless hand over the brow of the dog Bartholo- 
mew, who had stepped up to fraternize. 

“He dropped them.” 

“What made him do that ?” 

“He had a shock, when I broke off our engagement.” 

“What!” 

“Yes.” A gleam came into her eyes, as if she were re-living 
unpleasant scenes, and her voice took on the sort of metallic 



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sharpness which I have so often noticed in that of my Aunt 
Agatha during our get-togethers. Her iistlessness disappeared^ 
and for the first time she spoke with a girlish vehemence. ‘'I got 
to Harold’s cottage^^ and I went in^ and after we’d talked of this 
and that for a whSe^ I said ‘When are you going to pinch Eustace 
Oates’s helmet;^ darling ?’ And would you believe it^ he looked at 
me in a horrible^ sheepish, hang-dog way and said that he had 
been wrestling with his conscience in the hope of getting its 
O.K., but that it simply wouldn’t hear of him pinching Eustace 
Oates’s helmet, so it was all off. ‘Oh ?’ I said, drawing myself up. 
‘All off, is it? Well, so is our engagement,’ and he dropped a 
double handful of coloured slides of the Holy Land, and I came 
away.” 

“You don’t mean that ?” 

“Yes, I do. And I consider that I have had a very lucky escape. 
If he is the sort of man who is going to refuse me every little 
thing I ask, I’m glad I found it out in time. I’m delighted about 
the whole thing.” 

Here, with a sniff like the tearing of a piece of calico, she buried 
the bean in her hands, and broke into what are called uncontrol- 
lable sobs. 

Well, dashed painful, of course, and you wouldn’t be far wrong 
in saying that I ached in sympathy with her distress. I don’t 
suppose there is a man in the W.i postal district of London more 
readily moved by a woman’s grief than myself. For two pins, if 
I’d been a bit nearer, I would have patted her head. But though 
there is this kindly streak in the Woosters, there is also a practical 
one, and it didn’t take me long to spot the bright side to all this. 

“Weil, that’s too bad,” I said. “The heart bleeds. Eh. Jeeves ?” 

“Distinctly, sir.” 

“Yes, by Jove, it bleeds profusely, and I suppose all that one 
can say is that one hopes that Time, the great healer, will even- 
tually stitch up the wound. However, as in these circs you will, 
of course, no longer have any use for that notebook of Gussie’s, 
how about handing it over ?” 

“What?” 

“I said that if your projected union with Stinker is off, you 
will, of course, no longer wish to keep that notebook of Gussie’s 
among your effects ” 

“Oh, don’t bother me about notebooks now.” 

“No, no, quite. Not for the world. All I’m saying is that if— 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 127 

at your leisure — choose the time to suit yourself— you wouldn^'t 
mind slipping it across 

^‘Oh, dl right. I can’t give it you now, though. It isn’t here.” 

“Not here?” 

“No. I put it . . . Hullo, what’s that ?” 

What had caused her to suspend her remarks just at the point 
when they were becoming fraught with interest was a sudden 
tapping sound. A sort of tap-tap-tap. It came from the direction 
of the window. 

This room of Stiffy’s, I should have mentioned, in addition 
to being equipped with four-poster beds, valuable pictures, richly 
upholstered chairs and all sorts of things far too good for a young 
squirt who went about biting the hand that had fed her at lun- 
cheon at its flat by causing it the utmost alarm and despondency, 
had a balcony outside its window. It was from this balcony that 
the tapping sound proceeded, leading one to infer that someone 
stood without. 

That the dog Bartholomew had reached this conclusion was 
shown immediately by the lissom agility with which he leaped at 
the window and started trying to bite his way through. Up till 
this moment he had shown himself a dog of strong reserves, 
content merely to sit and stare, but now he was full of strange 
oaths. And I confess that as I watched his champing and listened 
to his observations I congratulated myself on the promptitude 
with which I had breezed on to that chest of drawers. A bone- 
crusher, if ever one drew breath, this Bartholomew Byng. 
Reluctant as one always is to criticize the acts of an all-wise 
Providence, I was dashed if I could see why a dog of his size 
should have been fitted out with the jaws and teeth of a crocodile. 
Still, too late of course to do anything about it now. 

Stiffy, after that moment of surprised inaction which was to 
be expected in a girl who hears tapping sounds at her window, 
had risen and gone to investigate. I couldn’t see a thing from 
where I was sitting, but she was evidently more fortunately 
placed. As she drew back the curtain, I saw her clap a hand to her 
throat, like someone in a play, and a sharp cry escaped her, 
audible even above the ghastly row which was proceeding from 
the lips of the frothing terrier. 

“Harold!” she yipped, and putting two and two together I 
gathered that the bird on the balcony must be old Stinker Pinker, 
my favourite curate. 



128 


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It was with a sort of joyful yelp, like that of a woman getting 
together with her demon lover, that the little geezer had spoken 
his name, but it was evident that reflection now told her that after 
what had occurred between this man of God and herself this was 
not quite the tone. Her next words were uttered with a cold, 
hostile intonation. I was able to hear them, because she had 
stooped and picked up the bounder Bartholomew, clamping a 
hand over his mouth to still his cries — a thing I wouldn’t have 
done for a goodish bit of money. 

“What do you want ?” 

Owing to the lull in Bartholomew, the stuff was coming through 
well now. Stinker’s voice was a bit muflEled by the intervenii^ 
sheet of glass, but I got it nicely. 

“Stiffy!” 

“WeU?” 

“Can I come in ?” 

“No, yon can’t.” 

“But I’ve brought you something.” 

A sudden yowl of ecstasy broke from the young pimple. 

“Harold! You angel lamb! You haven’t got it, after aU ?” 

“Yes.” 

“Oh, Harold, my dream of joy!” 

She opened the window with eager fingers, and a cold draught 
came in and played about my ankles. It was not followed, as I 
had supposed it would be, by old Stinker. He continued to hang 
about on the outskirts, and a moment later his motive m doing 
so was made clear. 

“I say, Stiffy, old girl, is that hound of yours under control ?” 

“Yes, rather. Wait a minute.” 

She carried the animal to the cupboard and bunged him in, 
closing the door behind him. And from the fact that no further 
bulletins were received from him, I imagine he curled up and 
went to sleep. These Scotties are philosophers, well able to adapt 
themselves to changing conditions. They can take it as well as 
dish it out. 

“All dear, angel,” she said, and returned to the window, 
arriviag there just in time to be folded in the embrace of the 
incoming Stinker. 

It was not easy for some moments to sort out the male from 
the female ingredients in the ensuing tangle, but eventually he 
disengaged himself and I was able to see him steadily and see him 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


129 


whole. And when I did so, I noticed that there was rather more 
of him then there had been when I had seen hi-m last. Country 
butter and the easy life these curates lead had added a pound or 
two to an always impressive figure. To find the lean, finely trained 
Stinker of my nonage, I felt Siat one would have to catch him in 
Lent. 

But the change in him, I soon perceived, was purely superficial. 
The manner in which he now tripped over a rug and caimoned 
into an occasional table, upsetting it with aU the old thoroughness, 
showed me that at heart he still remained the same galumphing 
man with two left feet, who had always been constitutionally 
incapable of walking through the great Gobi desert without 
knocking something over. 

Stinker’s was a face which in the old College days had glowed 
with health and heartiness. The health was stiH there — ^he looked 
like a clerical beetroot — ^but of heartiness at this moment one 
noted rather a shortage. KQs features were drawn, as if Conscience 
were gnawing at his vitals. And no doubt it was, for in one hand 
he was canning the helmet which I had last observed perched on 
the dome of Constable Eustace Oates. With a quick, impulsive 
movement, like that of a man trying to rid himself of a dead fish, 
he thrust it at Stiffy, who received it with a soft, tender squeal 
of ecstasy. 

“I brought it,” he said dully. 

"Oh, Harold!” 

“I brought your gloves, too. You left them behind. At least, 
I’ve brought one of them. I couldn’t find the other.” 

“Thank you, darling. But never mmd about gloves, my wonder 
man. Tell me everythmg that happened.” 

He was about to do so, when he paused, and I saw that he was 
staring at me with a ra&er feverish look in his eyes. Then he 
turned and stared at Jeeves. One could read what was passing 
in his roind. He was debating within himself whether we were 
real, or whether the nervous strain to which he had been subjected 
was causing him to see things. 

“Stifify,” he said, lowering his voice, “don’t look now, but is 
there something on top of that chest of drawers ?” 

“Eh ? Oh, yes, that’s Bertie Wooster.” 

“Oh, it is ?” said Stinker, brightening visibly. “I wasn’t quite 
sure. Is that somebody on the cupboard, too ?” 

“That’s Bertie’s man Jeeves.” 



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“How do you do ?” said Stinker. 

“How do you do^ sir ?” said Jeeves. 

We climbed down, and I came forward with outstretched hand, 
anxious to get the reunion going. 

“What ho. Stinker.” 

“Hullo, Bertie.” 

“Long time since we met.” 

“It is a bit, isn’t it?” 

“I hear you’re a curate now.” 

“Yes, that’s right.” 

“How are the souls ?” 

“Oh, fine, thanks.” 

There was a pause, and I suppose I would have gone on to ask 
him if he had seen anything of old So-and-so lately or knew what 
had become of old What’s-his-name, as one does when the 
conversation shows a tendency to drag on these occasions of 
ancient College chums meeting again after long separation, but 
before I could do so, Stiffy, who had been crooning over the 
helmet like a mother over the cot of her sleeping child, stuck it 
on her head with a merry chuckle, and the spectacle appeared to 
bring back to Stinker like a slosh in the waistcoat the realization 
of what he had done. You’ve probably heard the expression ‘The 
wretched man seemed fully conscious of his position.’ That was 
Harold Pinker at this juncture. He shied like a startled horse, 
knocked over another table, tottered to a chair, knocked that over, 
picked it up and sat down, burying his face in his hands. 

“If the Infants’ Bible Class should hear of this!” he said, 
shuddering strongly. 

I saw what he meant. A man in his position has to watch his 
step. What people expect from a curate is a zealous performance of 
his parochial duties. They like to think of him as a chap who 
preaches about Hivites, Jebusites and what not, speaks the word 
in season to the backslider, conveys soup and blankets to the 
deserving bed-ridden, and sil that sort of thing. When they find 
him de-helmeting policemen, they look at one another with the 
raised eyebrow of censure, and ask themselves if he is quite the 
right man for the job. That was what was bothering Stinker and 
preventing him being the old effervescent curate whose joUy 
laugh had made the last School Treat go with such a bang. 

Stiffy endeavoured to hearten him. 

“I’m sorry, darling. If it upsets you. I’ll put it away.” She 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


131 


crossed to the chest of drawers, and did so. “But why it should,” 
she said, returning, “I can’t imagine. I should have thought it 
would have made you so proud and happy. And now tell me 
everything that happened.” 

“Yes,” I said. “One would like the first-hand story.” 

“Did you creep behind him like a leopard?” asked Stifify. 

“Of course he did,” I said, admonishing the silly young s hrim p. 
“You don’t suppose he pranced up in &Q view of the fellow? 
No doubt you trailed him with unremitting snakiness, eh. 
Stinker, and did the deed when he was relaxing on a stile or 
somewhere over a quiet pipe ?” 

Stinker sat staring straight before him, that drawn look still 
on his face. 

“He wasn’t on the stile. He was leaning against it. After you 
left me, Stiffy, I went for a walk, to think things over, and I had 
just crossed Plunkett’s meadow and was going to climb the stile 
into the next one, when I saw something dark in firont of me, and 
there he was.” 

I nodded. I could visualize the scene. 

“I hope,” I said, “that you remembered to give the forward 
shove before the upwards lift?” 

“It wasn’t necessary. The helmet was not on his head. He had 
taken it off and put it on the ground. And 1 just crept up and 
grabbed it.” 

I started, pursing the lips a bit. 

“Not quite playing the game. Stinker.” 

“Yes, it was,” said Stiffy, with a good deal of warmth. “I call 
it very clever of him.” 

I could not recede from my position. At the Drones, we hold 
strong views on these things. 

“There is a right way and a wrong way of pinching police- 
men’s helmets,” I said firmly. 

“You’re tall^g absolute nonsense,” said Stiffy. “I think you 
were wonderful, darling.” 

I shrugged my shoulders. 

“How do you feel about it, Jeeves ?” 

“I scarcely think that it would be fitting for me to offer an 
opinion, sir.” 

“No,” said Stiffy. “And it jolly weU isn’t fitting for you to 
offer an opinion, young pie-faced Bertie Wooster. Who do you 
think you are,” she demanded, with renewed warmth, “coming 



132 


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stroUing into a girl's bedroom, sticking on dog about the right 
way and the wrong way of pinching helmets ? It isn't as if you 
were such a wonder at it yourself, considering that you got 
collared and hauled up next morning at Bosher Street, where you 
had to grovel to Uncle Watkyn in the hope of getting off with a 
fine." 

I took this up promptly. 

"‘I did not grovel to the old disease. My manner throughout 
was calm and dignified, Uke that of a Red Indian at the stake. 
And when you speak of me hoping to get off with a fine ” 

Here Stiffy interrupted, to beg me to put a sock in it. 

‘‘WeU, all I was about to say was that the sentence stunned me. 
I felt so strongly that it was a case for a mere reprimand. How- 
ever, this is beside the point — ^which is that Stinker in the recent 
encounter did not play to the rules of the game. I consider his 
behaviour morally tantamount to shooting a sitting bird. I cannot 
alter my opinion." 

“And I can't alter my opinion that you have no business in 
my bedroom. What are you doing here ?" 

“Yes, I was wondering that," said Stinker, touching on the 
point for the first time, i^d I could see, of course, how he might 
quite well be surprised at finding this mob scene in what he had 
supposed the exclusive sleeping apartment of the loved one. 

I eyed her sternly. 

“You know what I am doing here. I told you. I came " 

“Oh, yes. Bertie came to borrow a book, darling. But" — ^here 
her eyes lingered on mine in a cold and sinister manner — “I'm 
afraid I can't let him have it just yet, I have not finished with it 
myself. By the way,” she continued, still holding me with that 
compelling stare, “Bertie says he will be delighted to help us 
with that cow-creamer scheme.” 

“WiU you, old man ?" said Stinker eagerly. 

“Of course he wiU,” said Stiffy. “He was saying only just now 
what a pleasure it would be.” 

“You won't mind me hitting you on the nose ?" 

“Of course he won't.” 

“You see, we must have blood. Blood is of the essence.” 

“Of course, of course, of course,” said Stiffy. Her manner was 
impatient. She seemed in a hurry to terminate the scene. “He 
quite understands that.” 

“When would you feel like doing it, Bertie ?” 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


133 


“He feels like doing it to-night,” said StiflEy. “No sense in 
putting things oflf. Be waiting outside at midnight, darling. 
Eveiybody will have gone to bed by then. Alidnight will suit you, 
Bertie ? Yes, Bertie says it will suit him splendidly. So that’s all 
settled. And now you really must be going, precious. If somebody 
came in and found you here, they might thi^ it odd. Good night, 
darling.” 

“Good night, darling.” 

“Good night, darling.” 

“Good night, darling.” 

“Wait!” I said, cutting in on these revolting exchanges, for I 
wished to make a last appeal to Stinker’s finer feelings. 

“He can’t wait. He’s got to go. Remember, angel. On the spot, 
ready to the last button, at twelve pip emma. Good night, 
darling.” 

“Good night, darling.” 

“Good night, darling.” 

“Good night, darling.” 

They passed on to the balcony, the nauseous endearments 
receding in the distance, and I turned to Jeeves, my face stem 
and hard. 

“Faugh, Jeeves !” 

“Sir?” 

“I said ‘Faugh!’ I am a pretty broadminded man, but this has 
shocked me — I may say to the core. It is not so much the be- 
haviour of Stifiy that I find so revolting. She is a female, and the 
tendency of females to be unable to distinguish between right and 
wrong is notorious. But that Harold Pinker, a clerk in Holy 
Orders, a chap who buttons his collar at the back, should coim- 
tenance this titnng appals me. He knows she has got that book. He 
knows that she is holding me up with it. But does he insist on 
her returning it ? No ! He lends himself to the raw work with open 
enthusiasm. A nice look-out for the Todeigh-in-the-Wold flock, 
tr3dng to keep on the straight and narrow path with a shepherd 
like &at! A pretty example he sets to this Infants’ Bible Class 
of which he speaks! A few years of sitting at the feet of Harold 
Pinker and imbibing his extraordinary views on morality and 
ethics, and every bsdly child on the list will be serving a long 
stretch at Wormwood Scrubs for blackmail.” 

I paused, much moved. A bit out of breath, too. 

“I think you do the gentleman an injustice, sir.” 



134 


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“Eh?” 

“I am sure that he is under the impression that your acquiesc- 
ence in the scheme is due entirely to goodness of heart and a 
desire to assist an old friend.” 

“You think she hasn’t told him about the notebook ?” 

“I am convinced of it, sir. I could gather that from the lady’s 
manner.” 

“I didn’t notice anything about her manner.” 

“When you v?ere about to mention the notebook, it betrayed 
embarrassment, sir. She feared lest Air. Pinker might inquire 
into the matter and, learning the faas, compel her to make 
restitution.” 

“By Jove, Jeeves, I believe you’re right.” 

I reviewed the recent scene. Yes, he was perfectly correct. 
Stiflfy, though one of those girls who enjoy in equal quantities 
the gall of an army mule and the calm insouciance of a fish on a 
slab of ice, had unquestionably gone up in the air a bit when I 
had seemed about to explain to Stinker my motives for being in 
the room. I recalled the rather feverish way in which she had 
hustled him out, like a small bouncer at a pub ejecting a large 
customer. 

“Egad, Jeeves !” I said, impressed. 

There was a muffled crashing sound from the direction of the 
balcony. A few moment slater, Stiffy returned. 

“Harold fell off the ladder,” she explained, laughing heartily. 
“Well, Bertie, you’ve got the programme all dear? To-night’s 
the night!” 

I drew out a gasper and lit it. 

“Wait!” I said. “Not so fast. Just one moment, young Stiffy.” 

The ring of quiet authority in my tone seemed to take her 
aback. She blinked twice, and looked at me questioningly, while 
I, drawing in a cargo of smoke, expelled it nonchalantly though 
the nostrils. 

“Just one moment,” I repeated. 

In the narrative of my earlier adventures with Augustus 
Fink-Nottle at Brinkley Court, with which you may or may not 
be familiar, I mentioned that I had once read a historical novel 
about a Buck or Beau or some such cove who, when it became 
necessary for him to put people where they belonged, was in 
the habit of laughing down from lazy eyelids and flic^g a speck 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


135 


of dust from the irreproachable Mechlin lace at his wrists. And 
I think I stated that I had had excellent results from modelling 
myself on this bird. 

I did so now. 

“Stiffy,” I said^ laughing down from lazy eyelids and flicking 
a speck of cigarette ash from my irreproachable axS^ “I will 
trouble you to disgorge that book.” 

The questioning look became intensified. I could see that aU 
this was perplexing her. She had supposed that she had Bertram 
nicely ground beneath the iron heelj and here he was^ popping up 
like a two-year-old, full of the fighting spirit. 

“What do you mean?” 

I laughed down a bit more. 

“I should have supposed,” I said, flicking, “that my meaning 
was quite clear. I want that notebook of Gussie’s, and I want it 
immediately, without any more back chat.” 

Her lips tightened. 

“You will get it to-morrow — ^if Harold turns in a satisfactory 
report.” 

“I shall get it now.” 

“Ha jolly ha!” 

“ ‘Ha jolly ha!^ to you, young Stiffy, with knobs on,” I re- 
torted with quiet dignity. “I repeat, I shall get it now. If I don’t, 
I shall go to old Stinker and tell him all about it.” 

“AU about what?” 

“AU about everything. At present, he is under the impression 
that my acquiescence in your scheme is due entirely to goodness 
of heart and a desire to assist an old friend- You haven’t told 
him about the notebook. I am convinced of it. I could gather 
that from your manner. When I was about to mention the note- 
book, it betrayed embarrassment. You feared lest Stinker might 
inquire into the matter and, learning the facts, compel you to 
m^e restitution.” 

Her eyes flickered. I saw that Jeeves had been correct in his 
diagnosis. 

“You’re talking absolute rot,” she said, but it was with a 
quaver in the v. 

“AU right. WeU, toodle-oo. I’m off to find Stinker.” 

I turned on my heel and, as I expected, she stopped me with a 
pleading yowl. 

“No, Bertie, don’t! You mustn’t!” 



136 


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I came back. 

“So! You admit it? Stinker knows nothing of your . . 
The powerful phrase which Aunt Dahlia had employed ■when 
speaMng of Sir Watkyn Bassett occurred to me — “of your under- 
handed skulduggery.” 

“I don’t see why you call it underhanded skullduggery.” 

“I can it underhanded skullduggery because that is what I 
consider it. And that is what Stinker, dripping as he is with hi gh 
principles, will consider it when the facts are placed before him.” 
I turned on the h. again. “Well, toodle-oo once more.” 

“Bertie, wait!” 

“Wed?” 

“Bertie, darling ” 

I checked her with a cold wave of the cigarette-holder. 

“Less of the ‘Bertie, darling’. ‘Bertie, darling’, forsooth! A nice 
time to start the ‘Bertie, darhng’-ing.” 

“But, Bertie, darling, I want to explain. Of course I didn’t dare 
teU Harold about the book. He would have had a fit. He would 
have said it was a rotten trick, and of course I knew it was. But 
there was nothing else to do. There didn’t seem any other way 
of getting you to help us.” 

“There wasn’t.” 

“But you are going to help us, aren’t you ?” 

“I am not.” 

“WeU, I do think you might.” 

“I dare say you do, but I won’t.” 

Somewhere about the first or second line of this chunk of 
dialogue, I had observed her eyes begin to moisten and her lips 
to tremble, and a pearly one had started to steal down the cheek. 
The bursting of the dam, of which that pearly one had been the 
first pr eliminar y trickle, now set in with great severity. With a 
brief word to the effect that she wished she were dead and that 
I would look pretty silly when I gazed down at her cofi&n, knowing 
that my inhumanity had put her there, she flung herself on the 
bed and started going oomp. 

It was the old uncontrollable sob-stuflf which she had pulled 
earlier in the proceedings, and once more I found myself a bit 
unmanned. I stood there irresolute, plucking nervously at the 
cravat. I have abeady alluded to the effect of a woman’s grief 
on the Woosters. 

“Oomp,” she went. 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


137 


“But, Stiffy ” I said. 

“Oomp . . . Oomp . . 

“But, Stiflfy, old girl, be reasonable. Use the bean. You can’t 
seriously expect me to pinch that cow-creamer.” 

“It oomps everything to us.” 

“Very possibly. But listen. You haven’t envisaged the latent 
snags. Your blasted uncle is watching my every move, just waiting 
for me to start something. And even if he wasn’t, the fact that I 
would be co-operating with Stinker renders the thing impossible. 
I have already given you my views on Stinker as a partner in 
crime. Somehow, in some manner, he would muck evers^thing 
up. Why, look at what hapi^ned just now. He couldn’t even climh 
down a ladder without falling off.” 

“Oomp.” 

“And, an3rway, just examine this sheme of yours in pitiless 
analysis. You tell me the wheeze is for Stinker to stroll in all 
over blood and say he hit the marauder on the nose. Let us 
suppose he does so. What ensues? ‘Ha!’ says your uncle, who 
doubtless knows a clue as well as the next man. ‘Hit him on the 
nose, did you ? Keep your eyes skinned, everybody, for a bird 
with a swollen nose.’ And the first thing he sees is me with a 
beezer twice the proper size. Don’t tell me he wouldn’t draw 
conclusions.” 

I rested my case. It seemed to me that I had made out a pretty 
good one, and I anticipated the resigned ‘Right ho. Yes, I see 
what you mean. I suppose you’re right.’ But she merely oomped 
the more, and I turned to Jeeves, who hitherto had not spo&n. 

“You follow my reasoning, Jeeves ?” 

“Entirely, sir.” 

“You agree with me, that the scheme, as plaimed, would merely 
end in disaster ?” 

“Yes, sir. It undoubtedly presents certain grave difficulties. 
I wonder if I might be permitted to suggest an alternative one.” 

I stared at the man. 

“You mean you have found a formula ?” 

“I think so, sir.” 

His words had de-oomped Stiffy. I don’t think anjnhing else 
in the world would have done it. She sat up, looking at him with 
a wild surmise, 

“Jeeves ! Have you really ?” 

“Yes, miss.” 



138 


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"Well, you certainly are the most wonderful woolly baa-lamb 
that ever stepped.” 

“Thank you, miss.” 

“Well, let us have it, Jeeves,” I said, lighting another cigarette 
and lowering self into a chair. “One hopes, of course, that you 
are right, but I should have thought personally that there were 
no avenues.” 

“I think we can find one, sir, if we approach the matter from 
the psychological angle.” 

“Oh, psychologic^ ?” 

“Yes, sir,” 

“The psychology of the individual ?” 

“Precisely, sir.” 

“I see. Jeeves,” I explained to Stiify, who, of course, knew the 
man only slightly, scarcely more, indeed, than as a silent figure 
that had done some smooth potato-handing when she had 
lunched at my flat, “is and always has been a whale on the 
psychology of the individual. He eats it ahve. What individual, 
Jeeves ?” 

“Sir Watkyn Bassett, sir,” 

I frowned doubtfully. 

“You propose to try to soften that old public enemy ? I don’t 
think it can be done, except with a knuckleduster.” 

“No, sir. It would not be easy to soften Sir Watkyn, who, as 
you imply, is a man of strong character, not easily moulded. 
The idea I have in mind is to endeavour to take advantage of his 
attitude towards yourself. Sir Watkyn does not like you, sir.” 

“I don’t like him.” 

“No, sir. But the important thing is that he has conceived a 
strong distaste for you, and would consequently sustain a severe 
shock, were you to inform him that you and Miss Byng were 
betrothed and were anxious to be united in matrimony.” 

“What! You want me to teU him that Stiflfy and I are that 
way?” 

“Precisely, sir.” 

I shook the head. 

“I see no percentage in it, Jeeves. All right for a laugh, no 
doubt — ^watching the old bounder’s reactions I mean — ^but of 
little practical vdue.” 

Stifly, too, seemed disappointed. It was plain that she had been 
hoping for better things. 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 139 

“It sounds goofy to me,” she said. “Where would that get us, 
Jeeves ?” 

“If I might explain, miss. Sir Watkyn’s reactions would, as 
Mr. Wooster suggests, be of a strongly defined character.” 

“He would hit the ceiling.” 

“Exactly, miss. A very colourful piece of imagery. And if you 
were then to assure him that there was no truth in Air. Wooster’s 
statement, adding that you were, in actual fact, betrothed to Mr. 
Pinker, I think the overwhelming relief which he would feel at 
the news would lead him to look with a kindly eye on your union 
with that gentleman.” 

Personally, I had never heard anything so potty in my life, 
and my manner indicated as much. Stifify, on the other hand, was 
all over it. She did the first few steps of a Spring dance. 

“Why, Jeeves, that’s marvellous!” 

“I think it would prove effective, miss.” 

“Of course, it would. It couldn’t fail. Just imagine, Bertie, 
darling, how he would fed if you told him I wanted to marry 
you. Why, if after that I said ‘Oh, no, it’s all right. Unde Watkyn. 
The chap I really want to marry is the boy who cleans the boots,’ 
he would fold me in his arms and promise to come and dance at 
the wedding. And when he finds that the real fellow is a splendid, 
wonderful, terrific man like Harold, the thing will be a walk-over. 
Jeeves, you really are a spedfic dream-rabbit.” 

“Thank you, miss. I am glad to have given satisfaction.” 

I rose. It was my intention to say good-bye to aU this. I don’t 
mind people talking rot in my presence, but it must not be utter 
rot. I turned to Stifify, who was now in the later stages of her 
Spring dance, and addressed her with curt severity. 

“I will now take the book, Stifiy.” 

She was over by the cupboard, strewing roses. She paused for 
a moment. 

“Oh, the book. You want it ?” 

“I do. Immediately.” 

“I’ll give it you after you’ve seen Unde Watkyn.” 

“Oh?” 

“Yes. It isn’t that I don’t trust you, Bertie, darling, but I 
should feel much happier if I knew that you knew I had stiU 
got it, and I’m sure you want me to fed happy. You toddle off 
and beard him, and then we’U talk.” 

I frowned. 



140 


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“I will toddle oif,” I said coldly, “but beard him, no. I seem 
to see myself bearding him!” 

She stared. 

“But, Bertie, this sounds as if you weren’t going to sit in.” 

“It was how I meant it to sound.” 

“You wouldn’t fail me, would you ?” 

“I would. I would fail you like billy-o.” 

“Don’t you like the scheme ?” 

“I do not. Jeeves spoke a moment ago of his gladness at having 
given satisfaction. He has given me no satisfaction whatsoever. 
I consider that the idea he has advanced marks the absolute 
zero in human goofiness, and I am surprised that he should have 
entertained it. The book, Stifiy, if you please — and slippily.” 

She was silent for a space. 

“I was rather asking myself,” she said, “if you might not taTrf> 
this attitude.” 

“And now you know the answer,” I riposted. “I have. The 
book, if you please.” 

“Pm not going to give you any book.” 

“Very well. Then I go to Stinker and tell him all.” 

“All right. Do. And before you can get within a mile of bim_, 
I shall be up in the library, telling Uncle Watligm all.” 

She w^gled her chin, like a ^1 who considers that she has 
put over a swift one: and, examining what she had said, I was 
compelled to realize that this was precisely what she had put 
over. I had overlooked this contingency completely. Her words 
gave me pause. The best I could do in the way of a come-back 
was to utter a somewhat baflBled “H’m!” There is no use attempt- 
ing to disguise the fact — Bertram was nonplussed. 

“So there you are. Now, how about it ?” 

It is never pleasant for a chap who has been doing the dominant 
male to have to change his stance and sink to ignoble pleadings, 
but I could see no other course. My voice, which had been fira 
and resonant, took on a melting tremolo. 

“But, Stifiy, dash it! You wouldn’t do that?” 

“Yes, I would, if you don’t go and sweeten Unde Watkyn.” 

“But how can I go and sweeten him ? Stiffy, you can’t subject 
me to this fearful ordeal.” 

“Yes, I can. And whaf s so fearful about it ? He can’t eat you,” 

I conceded this, 

“True. But that’s about the best you can say.” 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


141 


“It won’t be any worse than a visit to the dentist.” 

“It’ll be worse than six visits to six dentists.” 

“Wellj think how glad you will be when it’s over.” 

I drew little consolation from this. I looked at her doselyj 
hoping to detect some signs of softening. Not one. She had been 
as tough as a restaurant steak, and she continued as tough as a 
restaurant steak. Kipling was right. D. than the m. No getting 
round it. 

I made one last appeal. 

“You won’t recede from your position ?” 

“Not a step.” 

“In spite of the fact — excuse me mentioning it — ^that I gave 
you a dashed good lunch at my fiat, no expense spared ?” 

“No.” 

I shrugged my shoulders, as some Roman gladiator — one of 
those chaps who threw knotted sheets over people, for instance — 
might have done on hearing the caU-boy shouting his number in 
the wings. 

“Very well, then,” I said. 

She beamed at me maternally. 

“That’s the spirit. That’s my brave little man.” 

At a less preoccupied moment, I might have resented her calling 
me her brave little man, but in this grim hour it scarcely seemed 
to matter. 

“Where is this frightful unde of yours ?” 

“He’s bound to be in the library now.” 

“Very good. Then I will go to him.” 

I don’t know if you were ever told as a kid that story about 
the fellow whose dog chewed up the priceless manuscript of the 
book he was writing. The blow-out, if you remember, was that 
he gave the anim al a pained look and said: “Oh, Diamond, 
Diamond, you — or it may have been thou — ^little know — or 
possibly knowest — ^what you — or thou — ^has — or hast — done.” 
I heard it in the nursery, and it has always lingered in my mind. 
And why I bring it up now is that this was how I looked at Jeeves 
as I passed from the room. I didn’t actually speak the gag, but I 
fancy he knew what I was thinking. 

I could have wished that Stifly had not said “Yoicks! Tally- 
ho!” as I crossed the threshold. It seemed to me in the circum- 
stances flippant and in dubious taste. 



I T has been well said of Bertram Wooster by those who know 
him best that there is a certain resihence in his nature that 
enables him as a general rule to rise on stepping-stones of his 
dead self in the most unfavourable circumstances. It isn^t often 
that I fail to keep the chin up and the eye sparkling. But as I 
made my way to the library in pursuance of my dreadful task, 
I freely admit that Life had pretty well got me down. It was with 
leaden feet, as the expression is, that I tooled along. 

Stiffy had compared the binge under advisement to a visit to 
the dentist, but as I reached journey’s end I was feeling more as 
I had felt in the old days of school when going to keep a tryst 
with the head master in his study. You will recdl my telling you 
of the time I sneaked down by night to the Rev. Aubrey Upjohn’s 
lair in quest of biscuits and found myself unexpectedly cheek by 
jowl with the old bird, I in striped non-shrinkable pyjamas, he 
in tweeds and a dirty look. On that occasion, before parting, we 
had made a date for half-past four next day at the same spot, and 
my emotions now were almost exactly similar to those which I 
had experienced on that far-oif afternoon, as I tapped on the door 
and heard a scarcely human voice invite me to enter. 

The only difference was that while the Rev, Aubrey had been 
alone. Sir Watkyn Bassett appeared to be entertaining company. 
As my knuckles hovered over the panel, I seemed to hear the 
rumble of voices, and when I went in I found that my ears had 
not deceived me. Pop Bassett was seated at the desk, and by his 
side stood Constable Eustace Oates. 

It was a spectacle that rather put the lid on the shrinking feeling 
from which I was suffering. I don’t know if you have ever been 
jerked before a tribunal of justice, but if you have you will bear 
me out when I say that the memory of such an experience lingers, 
with the result that when later you are suddenly confronted by a 
sitting magistrate and a standing policeman, the association of 
ideas gives you a bit of a shock and tends to unman. 

142 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 143 

A swift, keen glance from old B. did nothing to still the 
fluttering pulse. 

“Yes, Air. Wooster ?” 

“Oh — ^ah — could I speak to you for a moment?” 

“Speak to me ?” I could see that a strong distaste for having 
his sanctum cluttered up with Woosters was contending in Sir 
Watkyn Bassett’s bosom with a sense of the obligations of a host. 
After what seemed a nip-and-tuck struggle, the latter got its 
nose ahead. “Why, yes . . . That is . . . If you really . . . Oh, 
certainly . . . Pray take a seat.” 

I did so, and felt a good deal better. In the dock, you have to 
stand. Old Bassett, after a quick look in my direction to see that 
I wasn’t stealing the carpet, turned to the constable again. 

“Well, I think that is all, Oates.” 

“Very good. Sir Watkyn.” 

“You understand what I wish you to do ?” 

“Yes, sir.” 

“And with regard to that other matter, I will look into it very 
closely, bearing in mind what you have told me of your suspicions. 
A most rigorous investigation shall be made.” 

The zedous officer clumped out. Old Bassett fiddled for a 
moment with the papers on his desk. Then he cocked an eye 
at me. 

“That was Constable Oates, Air. Wooster.” 

“Yes.” 

“You know him ?” 

“I’ve seen him.” 

“When?” 

“This afternoon.” 

“Not since then ?” 

“No.” 

“You are quite sure ?” 

“Oh, quite.” 

“H’m.” 

He fiddled with the papers again, then touched on another topic. 

“We were all disappointed that you were not with us in the 
drawing-room after ciinner, Air. Wooster.” 

This, of course, was a bit embarrassing. The man of semibility 
does not like to reveal to his host that he has been dodging him 
like a leper. 

“You were much missed.” 



144 


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“Oh, was I? Fm sorry, I had a bit of a headache, and went 
and ensconced myself in my room.” 

“I see. And you remained there ?” 

“Yes.” 

“You did not by any chance go for a walk in the fresh air, to 
relieve your headache ?” 

“Oh, no. Ensconced all the time.” 

“I see. Odd. My daughter Madeline tells me that she went 
twice to your room after the conclusion of dinner, but found it 
unoccupied.” 

“Oh, really? Wasn’t I there?” 

“You were not.” 

“I suppose I must have been somewhere else.” 

“The same thought had occurred to me.” 

“I remember now. I did saunter out on two occasions.” 

“I see.” 

He took up a pen and leaned forward, tapping it against his 
left forefinger. 

“Somebody stole Constable Oates’s helmet to-night,” he said, 
changing the subject. 

“Oh, yes.” 

“Yes. Unfortunately he was not able to see the miscreant.” 

“No?” 

“No. At the moment when the outrage took place, his back was 
turned.” 

“Dashed difficult, of course, to see miscreants, if your back’s 
turned.” 

“Yes.” 

“Yes.” 

There was a pause. And as, in spite of the fact that we seemed 
to be agreeing on every point, I continued to sense a strain in 
the atmosphere, I tried to lighten things with a gag which I 
remembered from the old in statu pupllari days. 

“Sort of makes you say to yourself custodietipsoscmtodesi 
what?” 

“I beg your pardon ?” 

“Latin joke,” I exclaimed, “Quis — ^who — custodiet — ^shall guard 
— ipsos custodes — ^the guardians themselves ? Rather funny, I mea n 
to say,” I proceeded, making it dear to the meanest intelligence, 
“a chap who’s supposed to stop chaps pinching things from chaps 
having a chap come along and pinch something from him.” 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTEES 145 

“Ah, I see your point. Yes, I can conceive that a certain type 
of mind might detect a humorous side to the afiEair. But I can 
assure you, Mr. Wooster, that that is not the side which presents 
itself to me as a Justice of the Peace. I take the very gravest view 
of the matter, and this, when once he is apprehended and pl ac ed 
in custody, I shall do my utmost to persuade the culprit to 
share.” 

I didn’t like the sound of this at all. A sudden alarm for old 
Stinker’s well-being swept over me. 

“I say, what do you think he would get ?” 

“I appreciate your zeal for knowledge, Mr. Wooster, but at 
the moment I am not prepared to confide in you. In the words of 
the late Lord Asquith, I can only say ‘Wait and see’. I thirlr it is 
possible that your curiosity may be gratified before long.” 

I didn’t want to rake up old sores, always being a bit of a lad 
for letting the dead past bury its dead, but I thought it might be 
as well to give him a pointer. 

“You fined me five quid,” Ifreminded him- 

“So you informed me this afternoon,” he said, pince-nezing 
me coldly. “But if I understood correctly what you were saying, 
the outrage for which you were brought before me at Bosher 
Street was perpetrated on the night of the annual boat race 
between the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, when a 
certain licence is traditionally granted by the authorities. In the 
present case, there are no such extenuating drcumstances. I 
should certainly not punish the wanton stealing of Government 
property from the person of Constable Oates with a mere fine.” 

“You don’t mean it would be chokey?” 

“I said that I was not prepared to confide in you, but having 
gone so far I will. The answer to your question, Mr. Wooster, is 
in the affirmative.” 

There was a silence. He sat tapping his finger with the pen. 
I, if memory serves me correctly, straightened my tie. I was 
deeply concerned. The thou^t of poor old Stinker being bunged 
into the BastiUe was enough to ^sturb anyone with a kindly 
interest in his career and prospects. Nothing retards a curate’s 
advancement in his chosen profession more surely than a spell 
in the jug. 

He lowered the pen. 

“WeD, Mr. Wooster, I think that you were about to tell me 
what brings you here ?” 



146 


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I Started a bit. I hadn’t actually forgotten my mission, of 
course, but all this sinister stuff had caused me to shove it away 
at the back of my mind, and the suddenness with which it now 
came popping out gave me a bit of a jar. 

I saw that there would have to be a few preliminary pourparlers 
before I got down to the nub. When relations between a bloke 
and another bloke are of a strained nature, the second bloke can’t 
charge straight into the topic of wanting to marry the first bloke’s 
niece. Not, that is to say, if he has a nice sense of what is fi tting^ 
as the Woosters have. 

“Oh, ah, yes. Thanks for reminding me.” 

“Not at all.” 

“I just thought I’d drop in and have a chat.” 

“I see.” 

What the thing wanted, of course, was edging into, and I 
found I had got the approach. I teed up with a certain access of 
confidence. 

“Have you ever thought about love. Sir Watkyn ?” 

“I beg your pardon?” 

“About love. Have you ever brooded on it to any extent ?” 

“You have not come here to discuss love ?” 

“Yes, I have. That’s exactly it. I wonder if you have noticed 
a rather rummy thing about it — ^viz. that it is everywhere. You 
can’t get away from it. Love, I mean. Wherever you go, there it 
is, buzzing along in every class of life. Quite remarkable. Take 
newts, for instance.” 

“Are you quite well, Mr. Wooster ?” 

“Oh, fine, thanks. Take newts, I was saying. You wouldn’t 
think it, but Gussie Fink-Nottle tells me they get it right up 
their noses in the mating season. They stand in line by the hour, 
waggling their tails at the local belles. Starfish, too. Also imdersea 
worms.” 

“Mr. Wooster ” 

“And, according to Gussie, even ribbonlike seaweed. That 
surprises you, eh ? It did me. But he assures me that it is so. 
Just where a bit of ribbonlike seaweed thinks it is going to get 
by pressing its suit is more than I can tell you, but at the time of 
the full moon it hears the voice of Love all right and is up and 
doing with the best of them. I suppose it builds on the hope that 
it will look good to other bits of ribbonlike seaweed, which, of 
course, would also be affected by the full moon. Well, be that as 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


147 


it may, what I’m working round to is that the moon is pretty full 
now, and if that’s how it affects seaweed you can’t very well blame 
a chap like me for feeling the impulse, can you ?” 

“I am afraid ” 

“Well, can you?” I repeated, pressing hitn strongly, and I 
threw in an “Eh, what ?” to clinch the thing . 

But there was no answering spark of intelligence in his eye. 
He had been looking like a man who had missed the finer shades, 
and he still looked like a man who had missed the finpr shades. 

“I am afraid. Air. Wooster, that you will think me dense, but 
I have not the remotest notion what you are talking about.” 

Now that the moment for letting him have it in the eyeball 
had arrived, I was pleased to find that the aU-of-a-twitter feeling 
which had gripped me at the outset had ceased to function. 
I don’t say that I had become exactly debonair and capable of 
flicking specks of dust from the irreproachable Me chlin lace at 
my wrists, but I felt perfectly calm. 

What had soothed the system was the realization that in another 
half-jiffy I was about to slip a stick of dynamite under this 
old buster which would teach him that we are not put into the 
world for pleasure alone. When a magistrate has taken five quid 
off you for what, properly looked at, was a mere bo3dsh peccadillo 
which would have been amply punished by a waggle of the fore- 
finger and a brief “Tut, tut I” it is always agreeable to make him 
jump like a pea on a hot shovel. 

“I’m talking about me and Stiffy.” 

“Stiffy?” 

“Stephanie.” 

“Stephanie ? My niece ?” 

“That’s right. Your niece. Sir Watkyn,” I said, remembering 
a good one, “I have the honour to ask you for your niece’s hand.” 

“You — ^what ?” 

“I have the honour to ask you for your niece’s hand.” 

“I don’t understand.” 

“It’s quite simple. I want to marry young Stiffy. She wants 
to marry me. Surely you’ve got it now ? Take a line through that 
ribbonlike seaweed.” 

There was no question as to its being value for money. On the 
cue “niece’s hand”, he had come out of his chair like a rocketing 
pheasant. He now sank back, fanning himself with the pen. He 
seemed to have aged quite a lot. 



148 


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“She wants to marry you 

“That’s the idea.” 

“But I was not aware that you knew my niece.” 

“Ohi rather. We twO;, if you care to put it that way, have 
plucked the gowans fine. Oh^ yes^ I know Stiffy^ all right. Well, 
I mean to say, if I didn’t, I shouldn’t want to marry her, should 
I?” 

He seemed to see the justice of this. He became silent, except 
for a soft, groaning noise. I remembered another good one. 

“You will not be losing a niece. You will be gaining a nephew.” 

“But I don’t want a nephew, damn it 1” 

Well, there was that, of course. 

He rose, and muttering something which sounded like “Oh, 
dear! Oh, dear!” went to the fireplace and pressed the bell with 
a weak finger. Returning to his seat, he remained holding his 
head in his hands until the butler blew in. 

“Butterfield,” he said in a low, hoarse voice, “find Aliss 
Stephanie and tell her that I wish to speak to her,” 

A stage wait then occurred, but not such a long one as you 
might have expected. It was only about a minute before Stiffy 
appeared. I imagine she had been lurking in the ofiing, expectant 
of this summons. She tripped in, all merry and bright. 

“You want to see me. Uncle Watkyn ? Oh, hullo, Bertie.” 

“HuUo.” 

“I didn’t know you were here. Have you and Uncle Watkyn 
been having a nice talk ?” 

Old Bassett, who had gone into a coma again, came out of it 
and uttered a sound hke the death-rattle of a dying duck. 

“ ‘Nice’,” he said, “is not the adjective I would have selected.” 
He moistened his ashen lips. “Mr. Wooster has just informed me 
that he wishes to marry you.” 

I must say that young Stiffy gave an extremely convincing per- 
formance. She stared at him. She stared at me. She clasped her 
hands. I rather think she blushed. 

“Why, Bertie!” 

Old Bassett broke the pen. I had been wondering when he 
would. 

“Oh, Bertie! You have made me very proud.” 

“Proud?” I detected an incredulous note in old Bassett’s 
voice. “Did you say ‘proud’ ?” 

“Well, it’s the greatest compliment a man can pay a woman. 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


149 


you know. All the nibs are agreed on that. I’m tremendously 
flattered and grateful . . . and, weU, all that sort of thing. But, 
Bertie dear. I’m terribly sorry. I’m a&aid it’s impossible.” 

I hadn’t supposed that there was anything in tie world capable 
of jerking a man from the depths so effectively as one of those 
morning mistures of Jeeves’s, but these words acted on old Bassett 
with an even greater promptitude and zip. He had been sitting in 
his chair in a boneless, huddled sort of way, a broken man. He 
now started up, with gleaming eyes and twitching lips. You 
could see that hope had dawned. 

“Impossible ? Don’t you want to marry him ?” 

“No.” 

“He said you did.” 

“He must have been thinking of a couple of other fellows. No, 
Bertie, darling, it cannot be. You see, I love somebody else.” 

Old Bassett started. 

“Eh? Who?” 

“The most wonderful man in the world.” 

“He has a name, I presume ?” 

“Harold Pinker.” 

“Harold Pinker? . . . Pinker . . . The only Pinker I know 
is ” 

“The curate. That’s right. He’s the chap.” 

“You love the curate ?” 

“Ah I” said Stiffy, rolling her eyes up and looking like Aunt 
Dahlia when she had spoken of the merits of blackmail. “We’ve 
been secretly engaged for weeks.” 

It was plain from old Bassett’s manner that he was not prepared 
to classify this vmder the heading of tidings of great joy. His brows 
were knitted, like those of some diner in a restaurant who, sailing 
into his dozen oysters, finds that the first one to pass his lips is 
a wrong ’un. I saw that Stiffy had shown a shrewd knowledge of 
human nature, if you could call his that, when she had told me 
that this man would have to be heavily sweetened before the news 
could be broken. Y ou could see that he shared the almost universal 
opinion of parents and imcles that curates were nothing to start 
strewing roses out of a hat about. 

“You know that vicarage that you have in your gift. Uncle 
Watk3m. What Harold and I were thinking was that you might 
give him that, and then we could get married at once. You see, 
apart from the increased dough, it would start him off on the 



150 


THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


road to higher things. Up till now, Harold has been working 
under wraps. As a curate, he has had no scope. But sHp him a 
vicarage, and watch him let himself out. There is literally no 
eminence to which that boy will not rise, once he spits on his 
hands and starts in.’* 

She wiggled from base to apex with girlish enthusiasm, but 
there was no girlish enthusiasm in old Bassett’s demeanour. 
Well, there wouldn’t be, of course, but whatl mean is there wasn’t. 

“^diculous!” 

“Why?” 

“I could not dream ” 

“Why not?” 

“In the first place, you are far too young ” 

“What nonsense. Three of the girls I was at school with were 
married last year. I’m senile compared with some of the infants 
you see toddling up the aisle nowadays.” 

Old Bassett thumped the desk — coming down, I was glad to 
see, on an upturned paper fastener. The bodily anguish induced 
by this lent vehemence to his tone. 

“The whole thing is quite absurd and utterly out of the 
question. I refuse to consider the idea for an instant.” 

“But what have you got against Harold ?” 

“I have nothing, as you put it, against him. He seems zealous 
in his duties and popular in the parish ” 

“He’s a baa-lamb.” 

“No doubt.” 

“He played football for England.” 

“Very possibly.” 

“And he’s marvellous at tennis.” 

“I dare say he is. But that is not a reason why he should marry 
my niece. Wliat means has he, if any, beyond his stipend ?” 

“About five hundred a year.” 

“Tchah!” 

“Well, I don’t call that bad. Five hundred’s pretty good sugar, 
if you ask me. Besides, money doesn’t matter.” 

“It matters a great deal.” 

“You really feel that, do you ?” 

“Certainly. You must be practical.” 

“Right ho, I will. If you’d rather I married for money. I’ll 
marry for money. Bertie, it’s on. Start getting measured for the 
wedding trousers.” 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


151 


Her words created what is known as a genuine sensation. Old 
Bassett’s '"What!” and my "Here^ I say, dash it!” popped out 
neck and neck and collided in mid air, my heart-cry having, 
perhaps, an even greater horse-power than his. I was frankly 
appalled. Experience has taught me that you never know with 
girls, and it might quite possibly happen, I felt, that she would 
go through with this frightful project as a gesture. Nobody could 
teach me anything about gestures. Brinkley Court in the preceding 
Summer had crawled with them. 

"Bertie is rolling in the stuff and, as you suggest, one might do 
worse than take a whack at the Wooster millions. Of course, 
Bertie dear, I am only marrying you to make you happy. I can 
never love you as I love Harold. But as Uncle Watkyn has taken 
this violent prejudice against him ” 

Old Bassett hit the paper fastener again, but this time didn’t 
seem to notice it. 

"My dear child, don’t talk such nonsense. You are quite 
mistaken. You must have completely misunderstood me. I have 
no prejudice against this young man Pinker. I like and respect 
him. If you really think your happiness lies in becoming his ^e, 
I would be the last man to stand in your way. By 5ll means, 
marry him. The alternative ” 

He said no more, but gave me a long, shuddering look. Then, 
as if the sight of me were more than his frail strength could 
endure, he removed his gaze, only to bring it back again and give 
me a short, quick one. He then closed his eyes and leaned back 
in his chair, breathing stertorously. And as there didn’t seem 
anything to keep me, I sidled out. The last I saw of him, he was 
submitting without any great animation to a niece’s embrace. 

I suppose that when you have an uncle like Sir Watkyn Bassett 
on the receiving end, a niece’s embrace is a thing you tend to 
make pretty snappy. It wasn’t more than about a minute before 
Stiffy came out and immediately went into her dance. 

"What a man! What a man! What a man! What a man! What 
a man!” she said, waving her arms and giving other indications 
of bien-etre, "Jeeves,” she explained, as if she supposed that I 
might imagine her to be alluc^g to the recent Bassett. "Did he 
say it would work? He did. And was he right? He was. Bertie, 
could one kiss Jeeves ?” 

"Certainly not.” 

"Shall I kiss you?” 



152 


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“No, thank you. All I require from you, young Byng, is that 
notebook.” 

“Well, I must kiss someone, and I’m dashed if I’m going to 
kiss Eustace Oates.” 

She broke off. A graver look came into her dial. 

“Eustace Oates!” she repeated meditatively. “That reminds 
me. In the rush of recent events, I had forgotten him. I exchanged 
a few words with Eustace Oates just now, Bertie, while I was 
waitin g on the stairs for the balloon to go up, and he was sinister 
to a degree.” 

“Where’s that notebook ?” 

“Never mind about the notebook. The subject under dis- 
cussion is Eustace Oates and his sinistemess. He’s on my trail 
about that helmet.” 

“What!” 

“Absolutely. I’m Suspect Number One. He told me that he 
reads a lot of detective stories, and he says that the first thing 
a detective makes a bee-line for is motive. After that, opportunity. 
And finally clues. WeU, as he pointed out, with that high-handed 
behaviour of his about Bartholomew rankling in my bosom, I had 
a motive all right, and seeing that I was out and about at the time 
of the crime I had the opportunity, too. And as for clues, what do 
you think he had with him, when I saw him ? One of my gloves 1 
He had picked it up on the scene of the outrage — while measuring 
footprints or looking for cigar ash, I suppose. You remember when 
Harold brought me back my gloves, there was only one of 
them. The other he apparently dropped while scooping in the 
helmet.” 

A sort of dull, bruised feeling weighed me down as I mused 
on this latest manifestation of Harold Pinker’s goofiness, as if a 
strong hand had whanged me over the cupola with a blackjack. 
There was such a sort of hideous ingenuity in the way he thought 
up new methods of inviting ruin. 

“He would!” 

“What do you mean, he would ?” 

“WeU, he did, didn’t he?” 

“That’s not the same as saying he would — ^in a beastly, sneering, 
superdUous tone, as if you were so frightfuUy hot yourself. I 
can’t understand you, Bertie — ^the way you’re always criticizing 
poor Harold. I thought you were so fond of him.” 

“I love him like a b. But that doesn’t alter my opinion that 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 153 

of all the pumpkin-headed foozlers who ever preached about 
Hivites and Jebusites^ he is the foremost.” 

“He isn’t half as pumpkin-headed as you.” 

“He is, at a conservative estimate^ about twenty-seven times 
as pumpldn-headed as me. He begins where I leave oiBf. It may 
be a strong thing to say, but he’s more pumpkin-headed than 
Gussie.” 

With a visible effort, she swallowed the rising choler. 

“Well, never mind about that. The point is that Eustace Oates 
is on my trail, and I’ve got to look slippy and find a better safe- 
deposit vault for that helmet than my chest of drawers. Before I 
know where I am, the Ogpu will be searching my room. Where 
would be a good place, do you think ?” 

I dismissed the thing wearily. 

“Oh, dash it, use your own judgment. To return to the main 
issue, where is that notebook ?” 

“Oh, Bertie, you’re a perfect bore about that notebook. Can’t 
you talk of anything else ?” 

“No, I can’t. Where is it ?” 

“You’re going to laugh when I tell you.” 

I gave her an austere look. 

“It is possible that I may some day laugh again — ^when I have 
got well away from this house of terror, but there is a fat chance 
of my doing so at this early date. Where is that book ?” 

“Well, if you really must know, I hid it in the cow-creamer.” 

Everyone, I imagine, has read stories in which things turned 
black and swam before people. As I heard these words, Stiffy 
turned black and swam before me. It was as if I had been looking 
at a flickering negress. 

“You— what?” 

“I hid it in the cow-creamer.” 

“What on earth did you do that for ?” 

“Oh, I thought I would.” 

“But how am I to get it ?” 

A slight smile curved the young pimple’s mobile lips. 

“Oh, dash it, use your own judgment,” she said. “Well, see 
you soon, Bertie.” 

She biffed off, and I leaned limply against the banisters, trying 
to rally from this frightful wallop. But the world still flickered, 
and a few moments later I became aware that I was being ad- 
dressed by a flickering butler. 



154 


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^‘Excuse me^ sir. Miss Madeline desired me to say that she 
would be glad if you could spare her a moment.” 

I gazed at the man dully, like someone in a prison cell when 
the jailer has stepped in at dawn to notify him that the firing 
squad is ready, I knew what this meant, of course. I had recog- 
nized this butler^s voice for what it was — ^the voice of doom. 
There could be only one thing that Madeline Bassett would be 
glad if I could spare her a moment about. 

“Oh, did she?” 

“Yes, sir.” 

“Where is Aiiss Bassett ?” 

“In the drawing-room, sir.” 

“Right ho.” 

I braced myself with the old Wooster grit. Up came the chin, 
back went the shoulders. 

“Lead on,” I said to the butler, and the butler led on. 



* 10 * 


T he sound of soft and wistful music percolating through the 
drawing-room door as I approached did nothing to brighten 
the general outlook: and when I went in and saw Madeline 
Bassett seated at the pianoj drooping on her stem a goodish deal^ 
the sight nearly caused me to turn and leg it. However, I fought 
down the impulse and started things off with a tentative “What ho.’’ 

The observation elicited no immediate response. She had risen, 
and for perhaps half a minute stood staring at me in a sad sort 
of way, like the Mona Lisa on one of the mornings when the 
sorrows of the world had been coming over the plate a bit too fast 
for her. Finally, just as I was thinking I had better try to jfill in 
with something about the weather, she spoke, 

“Bertie ” 

It was, however, only a flash in the pan. She blew a fuse, and 
silence supervened again. 

“Bertie ” 

No good. Another wash-out. 

I was beginning to feel the strain a bit. We had had one of 
these deaf-mutes-getting-togetlier sessions before, at Brinkley 
Court, in the Summer, but on that occasion I had been able to 
ease things along by working in a spot of stage business during 
the awkward gaps in the conversation. Our previous chat as you 
may or possibly may not recall, had taken place in the BrinWey 
dining-room in the presence of a cold collation, and it had helped 
a lot being in a position to bound forward at intervals with a 
curried egg or a cheese straw. In the absence of these food stuffs, 
we were thrown back a good deal on straight staring, and this 
always tends to embarrass. 

Her lips parted. I saw that something was coming to the sur- 
face. A couple of gulps, and she was off to a good start. 

“Bertie, I wanted to see you ... I asked you to come because 
I wanted to say ... I wanted to tell you . . . Bertie, my 
engagement to Augustus is at an end.” 

“Yes.” 


155 



156 


THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


“You knew?” 

“Oh, rather. He told me.” 

“Then you know why I asked you to come here. I wanted to 
say ” 

“Yes.” 

“That I am willing ” 

“Yes.” 

“To make you happy.” 

She appeared to be held up for a moment by a slight return 
of the old tonsil trouble, but after another brace of gulps she 
got it out. 

“I win be your wife, Bertie.” 

I suppose that after this most chaps would have thought it 
scarcely worth while to struggle against the inev, but I had a 
dash at it. With such vital issues at stake, one would have felt a 
chump if one had left any stone unturned. 

“Awfully decent of you,” I said civilly. “Deeply sensible of the 
honour, and what not. But have you thought ? Have you reflected ? 
Don’t you feel you’re being a bit rough on poor old Gussie ?” 

“What! After what happened this evening?” 

“Ah, I wanted to talk to you about that. I always think, don’t 
you, that it is as well on these occasions, before doing anything 
Mastic, to have a few words with a seasoned man of the world 
and get the real low-down. You wouldn’t like later on to have to 
start wrin^ng your hands and saying ‘Oh, if I had only known!’ 
In my opinion, the whole thing should be re-examined with a 
view to threshing out. If you care to know what I think, you’re 
wronging Gussie.” 

“Wronging him ? When I saw him with my own eyes ” 

“Ah, but you haven’t got the right angle. Let me explain.” 

“There can be no explanation. We will not talk about it any 
more, Bertie. I have blotted Augustus from my life. Until to- 
night I saw him only through the golden mist of love, and thought 
him the perfect man. This evening he revealed himself as what 
he really is — a satyr.” 

“But that’s just what I’m driving at. That’s just where you’re 
making your bloomer. You see ” 

“We will not talk about it any more.” 

“But ” 

“Please!” 

“Oh, right ho.” 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 157 

I tuned out. You can’t make any headway with that tout com- 
prendre^ c^est tout par dormer stuff if the girl won’t listen. 

She turned the bean away, no doubt to hide a silent tear, and 
there ensued a brief interval during which she swabbed the eyes 
with a pocket handkerchief and I, averting my gaze, dipped the 
beak into a jar pot-pourri which stood on the piano. 

Presently, she took the air again. 

“It is useless, Bertie. I know, of course, why you are speaking 
like this. It is that sweet, generous nature of yours. There are no 
lengths to which you will not go to help a friend, even though it 
may mean the wrecking of your own happiness. But there is 
nothing you can say that will change me. I have finished with 
Augustus. From to-night he will be to me merely a memory — a 
memory that will grow fainter and fainter through the years as 
you and I draw ever closer together. You will help me to forget. 
With you beside me, I shall be able in time to exorcize Augustus’s 
spell . . . And now I suppose I had better go and tell Daddy.” 

I started. I could still see Pop Bassett’s face when he had 
thought that he was going to draw me for a nephew. It would 
be a bit thick, I felt, while he was still quivering to the roots of the 
soul at the recollection of that hair’s-breadth escape, to tell him 
that I was about to become his son-in-law. I was not fond of 
Pop Bassett, but one has one’s humane instincts. 

“Oh, my aunt!” I said. “Don’t do that!” 

“But I must. He will have to know that I am to be your wife. 
He is expecting me to marry Augustus three weeks from to- 
morrow.” 

I chewed this over. I saw what she meant, of course. You’ve 
got to keep a father posted about these things. You can’t just 
let it all slide and have the poor old egg rolling up to the church 
in a topper and a buttonhole, to find that the wedding is off and 
nobody bothered to mention it to him. 

“Well, don’t tell him to-night,” I urged. “Let him simmer a 
bit. He’s just had a pretty testing shock.” 

“A shock?” 

“Yes. He’s not quite himself.” 

A concerned look came into her eyes, causing them to bulge a 
trifie- 

“So I was right. I thought he was not himself, when I met him 
coming out of the library just now. He was wiping his forehead 
and making odd little gasping noises. And when I asked him if 



158 


THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


anything was the matter, he said that we all had our cross to 
bear in this world, but that he supposed he ought not to complain, 
because things were not so bad as they might have been. I 
couldn’t think what he meant. He then said he was going to have 
a warm bath and take three aspirins and go to bed. ^{Tiat was it ? 
■^fTiat had happened ?” 

I saw that to reveal the full story would be to complicate an 
already fairly well complicated situation. I touched, accordingly, 
on only one aspect of it. 

“Stiffy had just told him she wanted to marry the curate.” 

“Stephanie? The curate? Mr. Pinker?” 

“That’s right. Old Stinker Pinker. And it churned him up a 
good deal. He appears to be a bit allergic to curates.” 

She was breathing emotionally, like the dog Bartholomew just 
after he had finished eating the candle. 

“But ... But . . .” 

“Yes?” 

“But does Stephanie love Mr. Pinker ?” 

“Oh, rather. No question about that.” 

“But then ” 

I saw what was in her mind, and nipped in promptly. 

“Then there can’t be anything between her and Gussie, you 
were going to say ? Exactly. This proves it, doesn’t it ? That’s the 
very point I’ve been trying to work the conversation round to 
from the start.” 

“But he ” 

“Yes, I know he did. But his motives in doing so were as pure 
as the driven snow. Purer, if anything. I’ll tell you all about it, 
and I am prepared to give you a hundred to eight that when I 
have finished you will admit that he was more to be pitied than 
censured.” 

Give Bertram Wooster a good, dear story to unfold, and he can 
narrate it well. Starting at the beginning with Gussie’s aghastness 
at the prospect of having to make a speech at the wedding break- 
fast, I took her step by step through the subsequent devdop- 
ments, and I may say that I was as limpid as dammit. By the time 
I had reached the final chapter, I had her a bit squiggle-eyed but 
definitely wavering on the edge of conviction. 

“And you say Stephanie has hidden this notebook in Daddy’s 
cow-creamer ?” 

“Plumb spang in the cow-creamer.” 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 159 

“But I never heard such an extraordinary story in my life.” 

“Bizarre, yes, but quite capable of being swallowed, don’t you 
think? What you have got to take into consideration is the 
psychology of the individual. You may say that you wouldn’t have 
a psychology like Stifiy’s if you were paid for it, but it’s hers all 
right.” 

“Are you sure you are not making all this up, Bertie ?” 

"Why on earth ?” 

“I know your altruistic nature so well.” 

“Oh, I see what you mean. No, rather not. This is the straight 
official stuff. Don’t you believe it ?” 

“I shall, if I find the notebook where you say Stephanie put it. 
I think I had better go and look.” 

“I would.” 

“I will.” 

“Fine.” 

She hurried out, and I sat down at the piano and began to 
play “Happy Days Are Here Again” with one finger. It was the 
only method of self-expression that seemed to present itself. I 
would have preferred to get outside a curried egg or two, for the 
strain had left me weak, but, as I have said, there were no curried 
eggs present. 

I was profoundly braced. I felt like some Marathon runner 
who, after sweating himself to the bone for hours, at length 
breasts the tape. The only thing that kept my bracedness from 
being absolutely unmixed was the lurking thought that in this 
ill-omened house there was always the chance of something 
unforeseen suddenly popping up to mar the happy ending. I 
somehow couldn’t see Totleigh Towers throwing in the towel 
quite so readily as it appeared to be doing. It must, I felt, have 
something up its sleeve. 

Nor was I wrong. When Madeli n e Bassett returned a few 
minutes later, there was no notebook in her hand. She reported 
total inability to discover so much as a trace of a notebook in the 
spot indicated. And, I gathered from her remarks, she had ceased 
entirely to be a believer in that notebook’s existence. 

I don’t know if you have ever had a bucket of cold water right 
in the mazzard. I received one once in my boyhood through the 
agency of a groom with whom I had had some difference of 
opinion. That same feeling of being knocked endways came over 
me now. 



160 


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I was at a loss and nonplussed. As Constable Oates had said, 
the first move the knowledgeable bloke makes when rummy 
goings-on are in progress is to try to spot the motive, and what 
Stifiy’s motive could be for saying the notebook was in the cow- 
creamer, when it wasn’t, I was unable to fathom. With a firm hand 
this girl had pulled my leg, but why — ^that was the point that 
baffled — ^why had she pulled my leg ? 

I did my best. 

“Are you sure you really looked ?” 

“Perfectly sure.” 

“I mean, carefully.” 

“Very carefully.” 

“Stifiy certainly swore it was there.” 

“Indeed?” 

“How do you mean, indeed ?” 

“If you want to know what I mean, I do not believe there ever 
was a notebook.” 

“You don’t credit my story ?” 

“No, I do not.” 

Well, after that, of course, there didn’t seem much to say. 
I may have said “Oh ?” or something along those lines — I’m not 
sure — ^but if I did, that let me out. I edged to the door, and pushed 
off in a sort of daze, pondering. 

You know how it is when you ponder. You become absorbed, 
concentrated. Outside phenomena do not register on the what-is- 
it. I suppose I was fiffly half-way along the passage leading to 
my bedroom before the beastly row that was going on there 
penetrated to my consciousness, causing me to stop, look and 
listen. 

This row to which I refer was a kind of banging row, as if 
somebody were banging on something. And I had scarcely said 
to myself “What ho, a banger!” when I saw who this banger was. 
It was Roderick Spode, and what he was banging on was the 
door of Gussie’s bedroom. As I came up, he was in the act of 
delivering another buffet on the woodwork. 

The spectacle had an immediately tranquillizing effect on my 
jangled nervous system. I felt a new man. And I’ll teU you why. 

Everyone, I suppose, has experienced the sensation of comfort 
and relief which comes when you are being given the run-around 
by forces beyond your control and suddenly discover someone 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


161 


on whom you can work off t±ie pent-up feelings. The merchant 
prince, when things are going wrong, takes it out of the junior 
clerk. The junior clerk goes and ticks off the office boy. The 
office boy kicks the cat. The cat steps down the street to find a 
smaller cat, which in its turn, the interview concluded, starts 
scouring the countryside for a mouse. 

It was so with me now. Snootered to bursting point by Pop 
Bassetts and Madeline Bassetts and Stiffy Byngs and what not, 
and hounded like the dickens by a remorseless Fate, I found 
solace in the thought that I could still slip it across Roderick 
Spode. 

^‘Spode!” I cried sharply. 

He paused with lifted fist and turned an inflamed face in my 
direction. Then, as he saw who had spoken, the red light died 
out of his eyes. He wilted obsequiously. 

*‘Well, Spode, what is all this ?” 

“Oh, hullo, Wooster. Nice evening.^’ 

I proceeded to work off the pent-up f ’$. 

“Never mind what sort of an evening it is,’’ I said. “Upon my 
word, Spode, this is too much. This is just that Utde bit above 
the odds which compels a man to take drastic steps.” 

“But, Wooster ” 

“What do you mean by disturbing the house with this abomin- 
able uproar ? Have you forgotten already what I told you about 
checkmg this disposition of yours to run amok like a raging 
hippopotamus ? I should have thought that after what I said you 
would have spent the remainder of the evening curled up with a 
good book. But no. I find you renewing your efforts to assault 
and batter my friends. I must warn you, Spode, that my patience 
is not inexhaustible.” 

“But, Wooster, you don’t understand.” 

“What don’t I understand ?” 

“You don’t know the provocation I have received from this 
pop-eyed Fink-Notde.” A wistful look came into his face. “I must 
break his neck.” 

“You are not going to break his neck.” 

“Well, shake him Hke a rat.” 

“Nor shake him like a rat.” 

“But he says I’m a pompous ass.” 

“When did Gussie say that to you ?” 

“He didn’t exactly say it. He wrote it. Look. Here it is.” 



162 


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Before my bulging eyes he produced from his pocket a small, 
brown, leather-covered notebook. 

Harking back to Archimedes just once more, Jeeves’s des- 
cription of him discovering the principle of displacement, though 
brief, had made a deep impression on me, bringing before my 
eyes a very vivid picture of what must have happened on that 
occasion. I had been able to see the man testing the bath-water 
with his toe . . . stepping in . . . immersing the frame. I had 
accompanied him in spirit through all the subsequent formalities 
— ^the soaping of the loofah, the shampooing of the head, the 
burst of song . . . 

And then, abruptly, as he climbs towards the high note, there 
is a silence. His voice has died away. Through the streaming suds 
you can see that his eyes are glowing with a strange light. The 
loofah falls from his grasp, disregarded. He utters a triumphant 
cry. “Got it! What ho! The principle of displacement!” And out 
he leaps, feeling like a million dollars. 

In precisely the same manner did the miraculous appearance of 
this notebook affect me. There was that identical moment of 
stunned silence, followed by the triumphant cry. And I have no 
doubt that, as I stretched out a compelling hand, my eyes were 
glowing with a strange light. 

“Give me that book, Spode!” 

“Yes, I would like you to look at it, Wooster. Then you will 
see what I mean. I came upon this,” he said, “in rather a remark- 
able way. The thought crossed my mind that Sir Watkyn might 
feel happier if I were to take charge of that cow-creamer of his. 
There have been a lot of burglaries in the neighbourhood,” he 
added hastily, “a lot of bmglaries, and those French wmdows are 
never really safe. So I — er — ^went to the collection-room, and took 
it out of its case. I was surprised to hear something bumping 
about inside it. I opened it, and found this book. Look,” he said, 
pointing a banana-hke finger over my shoulder. “There is what 
he says about the way I eat asparagus.” 

I think Roderick Spode’s idea was that we were going to pore 
over the pages together. When he saw me shp the volume into 
my pocket, I sensed the feeling of bereavement. 

“Are you going to keep the book, Wooster ?” 

1 am. 

“But I wanted to show it to Sir Watkyn. There’s a lot about 
him in it, too.” 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


163 


“We will not cause Sir Watkyn needless pain, Spode.” 

“Perhaps you’re right. Then FU be getting on with breaking 
this door down ?” 

“Certainly not,” I said sternly. “All you do is pop off.” 

“Pop off?” 

“Pop off. Leave me, Spode. I would be alone.” 

I watched him disappear round the bend, then rapped vigor- 
ously on the door. 

“Gussie.” 

No reply. 

“Gussie, come out.” 

“Fm dashed if I do.” 

“Come out, you ass. Wooster speaking.” 

But even this did not produce immediate results. He explained 
later that he was imder the impression that it was Spode giving 
a cunning imitation of my voice. But eventually I convinced him 
that this was indeed the l5oyhood friend and no other, and there 
came the sound of furniture being dragged away, and presently 
the door opened and his head emerged cautiously, like that of a 
snail taking a look round after a thimderstorm. 

Into the emotional scene which followed I need not go in 
detail. You will have witnessed much the same sort of thing in the 
pictures, when the United States Marines arrive in the nick of 
time to relieve the beleaguered garrison. I may sum it up by 
saying that he fawned upon me. He seemed to be under the 
impression that I had worsted Roderick Spode in personal combat 
and it wasn’t wonh while to correct it. Pressing the notebook into 
his hand, I sent him off to show it to Madeline Bassett, and 
proceeded to my room. 

Jeeves was there, messing about at some professional task. 

It had been my intention, on seeing this man again, to put him 
through it in no uncertain fashion for having subjected me to the 
tense nervous strain of my recent interview with Pop Bassett. 
But now I greeted him with the cordial smile rather than the 
acid glare. After all, I told myself, his scheme had dragged home 
the g^avy, and in any case this was no moment for recriminations. 
Wellington didn’t go about ticking people off after the battle of 
Waterloo. He slapped their backs and stood them drinks. 

“Aha, Jeeves! You’re there, are you?” 

“Yes, sir.” 

“Well, Jeeves, you may start packing the effects.” 



164 


THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


“Sir?” 

“For the homeward trip. We leave to-morrow.” 

“You are not proposing, then, sir, to extend your stay at 
Totleigh Towers ?” 

I laughed one of my gay, jolly ones. 

“Don’t ask foolish questions, Jeeves. Is Totleigh Towers 
a place where people extend their stays, if they haven’t got to ? 
And there is now no longer any necessity for me to linger on 
the premises. My work is done. We leave first thing to-morrow 
morning. Start packing, therefore, so that we shall be in a 
position to get off the mark without an instant’s delay. It won’t 
take you long ?” 

“No, sir. There are merely the two suitcases.” 

He hauled them from beneath the bed, and opening the larger 
of the brace began to sling coats and things into it, while I, 
seating myself in the arm-chair, proceeded to put him abreast 
of recent events. 

“Well, Jeeves, that plan of yours worked all right.” 

“I am most gratified to hear it, sir,” 

“I don’t say that the scene won’t haunt me in my dreams for 
some little time to come. I make no comment on your having 
let me in for such a thing. I merely state that it proved a winner. 
An uncle’s blessing came popping out like a cork out of a cham- 
pagne bottle, and Stifify and Stinker are headed for the altar rails 
with no more fences ahead.” 

“Extremely satisfartory, sir. Then Sir Watkyn’s reactions were 
as we had anticipated ?” 

“If anything, more so. I don’t know if you have ever seen a 
stout bark buffeted by the waves ?” 

“No, sir. My visits to the seaside have always been made in 
clement weather.” 

“Well, that was what he resembled on being informed by me 
that I wanted to become his nephew by marriage. He looked and 
behaved like the Wreck of the Hesperus. You remember? It 
sailed the wintry sea, and the skipper had taken his httle daughter 
to bear him company.” 

“Yes, sir. Blue were her eyes as the fairy-flax, her cheeks like 
the dawn of day, and her bosom was white as the hawrthorn buds 
that ope in the mouth of May.” 

“Quite. Well, as I was saying, he reeled beneath the blow and 
let water in at every seam. And when Stiffy appeared, and told 



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him that it was all a mistake and that the promesso sposo was in 
reality old Stinker Pinker^ his relief knew no bounds. He instantly 
gave his sanction to their union. Could hardly get the words out 
quick enough. But why am I wasting time telling you all this, 
Jeeves ? A mere side issue. Kerens the real front-page stuff. Here’s 
the news that will shock the chancelleries. I’ve got tliat notebook.” 

“Indeed, sir?” 

“Yes, absolutely got it. I found Spode with it and took it 
away from him, and Gussie is even now showing it to Aliss 
Bassett and clearing his name of the stigma that rested upon it. 
I shouldn’t be surprised if at this very moment they were 
locked in a close embrace.” 

“A consummation devoutly to be wished, sir.” 

“You said it, Jeeves.” 

“Then you have nothing to cause you further concern, sir.” 

“Nothing, The relief is stupendous. I feel as if a great weight 
had been rolled from my shoulders. I could dance and sing. I 
think there can be no question that exhibiting that notebook will 
do the trick.” 

“None, I should imagine, sir.” 

“I say, Bertie,” said Gussie, trickling in at this juncture with 
the air of one who has been passed through a wringer, “a most 
frightful thing has happened. The wedding’s off.” 



11 


I STARED at the man, clutching the brow and rocking on my 
base. 

“Off?” 

“Yes.” 

“Your wedding?” 

‘ “Yes.” 

“It’s off?” 

“Yes.” 

“What— ^#?” 

“Yes.” 

I don’t know what the Mona Lisa would have done in my place. 
Probably just what I did. 

“Jeeves,” I said. “Brandy!” 

“Very good, sir.” 

He rolled away on his errand of mercy, and I turned to Gussie, 
who was tacking about the room in a dazed manner, as if filling 
in the time before starting to pluck straws from his hair. 

“I can’t bear it!” I heard him mutter. “Life without Madeline 
won’t be worth Uving.” 

It was an astounding attitude, of course, but you can’t argue 
about fellows’ tastes. One man’s peach is another man’s poison, 
and vice versa. Even my Aunt Agatha, I remembered, had roused 
the red-hot spark of pash in the late Spenser Gregson. 

His wanderings had taken him to the bed, and I saw that he was 
looking at the knotted sheet which lay there, 

“I suppose,” he said, in an absent, soliloquizing voice, “a chap 
could hang himself with that.” 

I resolved to put a stopper on this trend of thought promptly. 
I had got more or less used by now to my bedroom being treated 
as a sort of meeting-place of the nations, but I was dashed if I 
was going to have it turned into the spot marked with an X. It 
was a point on which I felt strongly. 

“You aren’t going to hang yourself here.” 

“I shall have to hang myself somewhere.” 

166 



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167 


“Well, you don’t hang yourself in my bedroom.” 

He raised his eyebrows. 

“Have you any objection to my sitting in your arm-chair ?” 

“Go ahead.” 

“Thanks.” 

He seated himself, and stared before him with glazed eyes. 

“Now, then, Gussie,” I said, “I will take your statement. 
What is all this rot about the wedding being off?” 

“It is off.” 

“But didn’t you show her the notebook ?” 

“Yes. I showed her the notebook.” 

“Did she read its contents ?” 

“Yes.” 

“WeU, didn’t she tout comprendre ?” 

“Yes.” 

“And tout pardonner ?” 

“Yes.” 

“Then you must have got your facts twisted. The wedding 
can’t be off.” 

“It is, I tell you. Do you think I don’t know when a wedding’s 
off and when it isn’t ? Sir Watkyn has forbidden it.” 

This was an angle I had not foreseen. 

“Why ? Did you have a row or something ?” 

“Yes. About newts. He didn’t like me putting them in the 
bath,” 

“You put newts in the bath ?” 

“Yes.” 

Like a keen cross-examining counsel, I swooped on the point. 

“Why?” 

His hand fluttered, as if about to reach for a straw. 

“I broke the tank. The tank in my bedroom. The glass tank 
I keep my newts in. I broke the glass tank in my bedroom, and 
the bath was the only place to lodge the newts. The basin wasn’t 
large enough. Newts need elbow-room. So I put them in the 
baffi. Because I had broken the tank. The ^ass tank in my 
bedroom. The glass tank I keep my ” 

I saw that if allowed to continue in this strain he might go on 
practically indefinitely, so I called him to order with a sharp rap 
of a china vase on the mantelpiece. 

“I get the idea,” I said, brushing the fragments into the fibre- 
place. “Proceed. How does Pop Bassett come into the picture ?” 



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“He went to take a bath. It never occurred to me that anyone 
would be taking a bath as late as this. And I was in the drawing- 
room, when he burst in shouting: ‘Madeline, that blasted Fink- 
Notde has been filling my bath-tub with tadpoles!’ And I lost 
my head a little, Fm afraid. I yelled: ‘Oh, my gosh, you sihy old 
ass, be careful what you’re doing with those newts. Don’t touch 
them. Fm in the middle of a most important experiment.’ ” 

“I see. And then ” 

“I went on to tell him how I wished to ascertain whether the 
full moon affected the love life of newts. And a strange look came 
into his face, and he quivered a bit, and then he told me that he 
had pulled out the plug and all my newts had gone down the 
waste pipe.” 

I think he would have preferred at this point to fling himself 
on the bed and turn his face to the wall, but I headed him off. 
I was resolved to stick to the res. 

“Upon which you did what ?” 

“I ticked him off properly. I called him every name I could 
think of. In fact, I called him names that I hadn’t a notion I knew. 
They just seemed to come bubbling up from my subconscious- 
ness. I was hampered a bit at first by ^e fact that Madeline was 
there, but it wasn’t long before he told her to go to bed, and then 
I was really able to express myself. And when I finally paused for 
breath, he forbade the banns and pushed off. And I rang the bell 
and asked Butterfield to bring me a glass of orange juice.” 

I started. 

“Orange juice ?” 

“I wanted picking up.” 

“But orange juice ? At such a time ?” 

“It was what I felt I needed.” 

I shrugged my shoulders. 

“Oh, well,” I said. 

Just another proof, of course, of what I often say — ^that it takes 
all sorts to make a world. 

“As a matter of fact, I could do with a good long drink now.” 

“The tooth-botde is at your elbow.” 

“Thanks . . . Ah! That’s the stuff!” 

“Have a go at the jug.” 

“No, thanks. I know when to stop. Wdl, that’s the position, 
Bertie. He won’t let Madeline marry me, and Fm wondering if 
there is any possible way of bringing him round. I’m aftaid there 



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169 


isn’t. You see, it wasn’t only that I called him names ” 

“Such as ?” 

“Well, louse, I remember, was one of them. And skunk, I 
think. Yes, I’m pretty sure I called him a wall-eyed skunk. But 
he might forgive that. The real trouble is that I mocked at that 
cow-creamer of his.” 

“Cow-creamer!” 

I spoke sharply. He had started a train of thought. An idea had 
begun to burgeon. For some little time I had been calling on all 
the resources of the Wooster intellect to help me to solve this 
problem, and I don’t often do that without something breaking 
loose. At this mention of the cow-creamer, the brain seemed 
suddenly to give itself a shake and start off across country with 
its nose to the ground. 

“Yes. Knowing how much he loved and admired it, and 
searching for barbed words that would wound him, I told him 
it was modem Dutch. I had gathered from his remarks at the 
dinner table last night that that was the last thing it ought to be. 
‘You and your eighteenth-century cow-creamers!’ I said. Tah! 
Modem Dutch!’ or words to that effect. The thrust got home. He 
turned purple, and broke off the wedding.” 

“Listen, Gussie,” I said, “I think I’ve got it.” 

His face lit up. I could see that optimism had stirred and was 
shaking a leg. This Fink-Notde has always been of an optimistic 
nature. Those who recall his address to the boys of Market 
Snodsbury Grammar School will remember that it was largely 
an appeal to the little blighters not to look on the dark side. 

“Yes, I believe I see the way. What you have got to do, Gussie, 
is pinch that cow-creamer.” 

His lips parted, and I thought an “Eh, what?” was coming 
through, but it didn’t. Just silence and a couple of bubbles. 

“That is the first, essential step. Having secured the cow- 
creamer, you tell him it is in your possession and say: ‘Now, how 
about it ?’ I feel convinced that in order to recover that foul cow 
he would meet any terms you care to name. You know what 
collectors are like. Practically potty, every one of them. Why, my 
Uncle Tom wants the thing so badly that he is actually prepared 
to yield up his supreme cook, Anatole, in exchange for it.” 

“Not the fellow who was functioning at Brinkley when I was 
there ?” 

“That’s right.” 



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“The chap who dished up those nonettes de poulet Agnes 
Soreir 

“That very artist.” 

“You really mean that your uncle would consider Anatole well 
lost if he could secure this cow-creamer ?” 

“I have it from Aunt Dahlia’s own lips.” 

He drew a deep breath. 

“Then you’re right. This scheme of yours would certainly 
solve everything. Assuming, of course, that Sir Watkyn values 
the thing equally highly.” 

“He does. Doesn’t he, Jeeves ?” I said, putting it up to him, 
as he trickled in with the brandy. “Sir Watk^ Bassett has 
forbidden Gussie’s wedding,” I explained, “and I’ve been tilling 
hhn that all he has to do in order to make him change his mind 
is to get hold of that cow-creamer and refuse to give it back until 
he coughs up a father’s blessing. You concur ?” 

“Undoubtedly, sir. If Mr. Fink-Nottle possesses himself of 
the ol^et d’art in question, he will be in a position to dictate. A 
very shrewd plan, sir.” 

“Thank you, Jeeves. Yes, not bad, considering that I had to 
think on my feet and form my strategy at a moment’s notice. 
If I were you, Gussie, I would put things in train immediately.” 

“Excuse me, sir.” 

“You spoke, Jeeves ?” 

“Yes, sir. I was about to say that before Mr. Fink-Nottle can 
put the arrangements in operation there is an obstacle to be sur- 
mounted.” 

“What’s that?” 

“In order to protect his interests. Sir Watkyn has posted 
Constable Oates on guard in the collection-room.” 

“What!” 

“Yes, sir.” 

The sunshine died out of Gussie’s face, and he uttered a 
stricken sound like a gramophone record r unning down. 

“However, I think &at with a little finesse it will be perfectly 
possible to eliminate this factor. I wonder if you recollect, sir, 
the occasion at ChufiaeU HaU, when Sir Roderick Glossop had 
become locked up in the potting-shed, and your efforts to release 
him appeared likely to be foiled by the fact that Police-Constable 
Dobson had been stationed outside the door ?” 

“Vividly, Jeeves.” 



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171 


“I ventured to suggest that it might be possible to induce him 
to leave his post by conveying word to him that the parlourmaid 
Mary, to whom he was betrothed, wished to confer with hun in 
the raspberry bushes. The plan was put into effect and proved 
successful.” 

“True, Jeeves. But,” I said dubiously, “I don’t see how any- 
thing like that could be worked here. Constable Dobson, you will 
recall, was young, ardent, romantic— just the sort of chap who 
would automatically go leaping into raspberry bushes if you told 
him there were girls there. Eustace Oates has none of the Dobson 
fire. He is well stricken in years and gives the impression of being 
a settled married man who would rather have a cup of tea.” 

“Yes, sir. Constable Oates is, as you say, of a more sober 
temperament. But it is merely the principle of the thing which I 
wotdd advocate applying to the present emergency. It would be 
necessary to provide a lure suited to the psychology of the 
individual. What I would suggest is that Air. Fink-Notde should 
inform the officer that he has seen his helmet in your possession.” 

“Egad, Jeeves!” 

“Yes, sir.” 

“I see the idea. Yes, very hot. Yes, that would do it.” 

Gussie’s glassy eye indicating that all this was failing to register, 
I explained. 

“Earlier in the evening, Gussie, a hidden hand snitched this 
gendarme’s lid, cutting him to the quick. What Jeeves is saying is 
that a word from you to the effect that you have seen it in my 
room will bring him bounding up here like a tigress after its 
lost cub, thus leaving you a clear field in which to operate. That 
is your idea in essence, is it not, Jeeves ?” 

“Predsely^, sir.” 

Gussie brightened visibly. 

“I see. It’s a ruse.” 

“That’s right. One of the ruses, and not the worst of them. 
Nice work, Jeeves.” 

“Thank you, sir.” 

“That will do the trick, Gussie. Tell him I’ve got his helmet, 
wait while he bounds out, nip to the glass case and trouser the 
cow. A simple programme. A child could carry it out. My only 
regret, Jeeves, is that this appears to remove any chance Aunt 
Dahlia might have had of getting the thing. A pity there has been 
such a wide popular demand for it.” 



172 


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“Yes^ sir. But possibly Mrs. Travers, feeling that Mr. Fink- 
Notde’s need is greater than hers, will accept the disappointment 
philosophically.’’ 

“Possibly. On the other hand, possibly not. Still, there it is. 
On these occasions when individual interests clash, somebody 
has got to draw the short straw.” 

“Very true, sir.” 

“You can’t be expected to dish out happy endings all round — 
one per person, I mean.” 

“No, sir.” 

“The great thing is to get Gussie fixed. So buzz off, Gussie, 
and Heaven speed your efforts.” 

I lit a cigarette, 

“A very sound idea, that, Jeeves. How did you happen to 
think of it?” 

“It was the officer himself who put it into my head, sir, when 
I was chatting with him not long ago. I gathered from what he 
said that he actually does suspect you of being the individual who 
purloined his helmet.” 

“Me ? Why on earth ? Dash it, I scarcely know the man. I 
thought he suspected Stiffy.” 

“Originally, yes, sir. And it is still his view that Miss Byng 
was the motivating force behind the theft. But he now believes 
that the young lady must have had a male accomphce, who did 
the rough work. Sir Watkyn, I understand, supports him in this 
theory.” 

I suddenly remembered the opening passages of my interview 
with Pop Bassett in the library, and at last got on to what he had 
been driving at. Those remarks of his which had seemed to me 
then mere idle gossip had had, I now perceived, a sinister under- 
current of meaning. I had supposed that we were just two of the 
boys chewing over the latest bit of hot news, and all the time the 
thing had been a probe or quiz, 

“But what makes them think that I was the male accomplice ?” 

“I gather that the officer was struck by the cordiality which he 
saw to exist between Miss Byng and yourself, when he encoun- 
tered you in the road this afternoon, and his suspicions became 
strengthened when he found the young lady’s glove on the scene 
of the outrage.” 

“I don’t get you, Jeeves.” 

“He supposes you to be enamoured of Miss Byng, sir, and 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTEKS 


173 


thinks that you were wearing her glove next your heart.” 

“If it had been next my heart, how could I have dropped it ?” 

“His view is that you took it out to press to your lips, sir.” 

“Come, come, Jeeves. Would I start pressing gloves to my 
lips at the moment when I was about to pinch a policeman’s 
helmet ?” 

“Apparently Mr. Pinker did, sir.” 

I was on the point of explaining to him that what old Sinker 
would do in any given situation and what the ordinary, normal 
person with a couple of ounces more brain than a cuckoo clock 
would do were two vastly different things, when I was interrupted 
by the re-entrance of Gussie. I could see by the buoyancy of his 
demeanour that matters had been progressing well. 

“Jeeves was right, Bertie,” he said. “He read Eustace Oates 
like a book.” 

“The information stirred him up ?” 

“I don’t think I have ever seen a more thoroughly roused 
policeman. His first impulse was to drop everything and come 
dashing up here right away.” 

“Why didn’t he?” 

“He couldn’t quite bring himself to, in view of the fact that 
Sir Watk5m had told him to stay there.” 

I followed the psychology. It was the same as that of the boy 
who stood on the burning deck, whence all but he had fled. 

“Then the procedure, I take it, will be that he will send word 
to Pop Bassett, notifying him of the facts and asking permission 
to go ahead ?” 

“Yes. I expect you will have him with you in a few minutes.” 

“Then you ought not to be here. You should be lurking in the 
hall.” 

“I’m going there at once. I only came to report.” 

“Be ready to slip in the moment he is gone.” 

“I will. Trust me. There won’t be a hitch. It was a wonderful 
idea of yours, Jeeves.” 

“Thank you, sir.” 

“You can imagine how relieved I’m feeling, knowing that in 
about five minutes everything will be all right. The only thing 
I’m a bit sorry for now,” said Gussie thoughtfully, “is that I 
gave the old boy that notebook.” 

He threw out this app allin g statement so casually that it was a 
second or two before I got its import. When I did, a powerful 



174 


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shock permeated my system. It was as if I had been redining in 
the dectric chair and the authorities had turned on the juice. 

“You gave him the notebook!” 

“Yes. Just as he was leaving. I thought there might be some 
names in it which I had forgotten to call him.” 

I supported mysdf with a trembling hand on the mantdpiece. 

“Jeeves!” 

“Sir?” 

“More brandy!” 

“Yes, sir.” 

“And stop doling it out in those small glasses, as if it were 
radium. Bring the cask.” 

Gussie was regarding me with a touch of surprise. 

“Something the matter, Bertie?” 

“Something the matter?” I let out a mirthless 1. “Hal Well, 
this has torn it.” 

“How do you mean ? Why ?” 

“Can’t you see what you’ve done, you poor chump ? It’s no 
use pinching that cow-creamer now. If old Bassett has read the 
contents of diat notebook, nothing bring him round.” 

“Why not?” 

“Well, you saw how they affected Spode. I don’t suppose Pop 
Bassett is any fonder of reading home-truths about himself than 
Spode is.” 

“But he’s had the home-truths already. I told you how I 
ticked him off.” 

“Yes, but you could have got away with that. Overlook it, 
please . . . spoken in hot blood . . . strangely forgot myself 
... all that sort of stuff. Coldly reasoned opinions, carefully 
inscribed day by day in a notebook, are a very different thing.” 

I saw that it had penetrated at last. The greenish tinge was 
back in his face. His mouth opened and shut like that of a goldfish 
which sees another goldfish nip in and get away with the ant’s 
egg which it had been earmarking for itself. 

“Oh, gosh!” 

“Yes.” 

“What can I do ?” 

“I don’t know.” 

“Think, Bertie, think!” 

I did so, tensely, and was rewarded with an idea. 

“Tell me,” I said, “what exactly occurred at the conclusion 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 175 

of the vulgar brawl ? You handed him the book. Did he dip into 
it on the spot ?” 

“No. He shoved it away in his pocket.” 

“And did you gather that he sthl intended to take a bath ?” 

“Yes.” 

“Then answer me this. What pocket ? I mean the pocket of 
what garment ? What was he wearing ?” 

“A dressing-gown.” 

“Over — ^thihk carefully, Fink-Nottle, for everything hangs on 
this— over shirt and trousers and things ?” 

“Yes, he had his trousers on. I remember noticing.” 

“Then there is still hope. After leaving you, he would have gone 
to his room to shed the upholstery. He was pretty steamed up, 
you say ?” 

“Yes, very much.” 

“Good. My knowledge of human nature, Gussie, tells me that 
a steamed-up man does not loiter about feeling in his pocket for 
notebooks and steeping himself in their contents. He flings off 
the garments, and legs it to the salle de bain. The book must still 
be in the pocket of his dressing-gown— which, no doubt, he 
fltmg on the bed or over a chair — ^and aU you have to do is nip 
into his room and get it.” 

I had anticipated that this clear thinking would produce the 
joyous cry and the heartfelt burst of thanks. Instead of which, 
he merely shuffled his feet cubiously. 

“Nip into his room?” 

“Yes ” 

“But'dash it!” 

“Now, what ?” 

“You’re sure there isn’t some other way ?” 

“Of course there isn’t.” 

“I see . . . You wouldn’t care to do it for me, Bertie ?” 

“No, I would not.” 

“Many fellows would, to help an old school friend,” 

“Many fdlows are mugs.” 

“Have you forgotten those days at the dear old school ?” 

“Yes.” 

“You don’t remember the time I shared my last bar of milk 
chocolate with you ?” 

“No.” 

“Well, I did, and you told me then that if ever you had an 



176 


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opportunity of doing anything for me . . . However, if these 
obUgations — sacred, some people might consider them — ^havc no 
weight with you, I suppose there is nothing more to be said.” 

He pottered about for a while, doing the old cat-in-an-a^ge 
stuff: Aen, taking from his breast pocket a cabinet photograph of 
Madeline Bassett, he gazed at it intently. It seemed to be the 
bracer he required. His eyes lit up. His face lost its fishlike look. 
He strode out, to return immediately, slamming the door behind 
him. 

“I say, Bertie, Spode’s out there!” 

“What of it?” 

“He made a grab at me.” 

“Made a grab at you ?” 

I frowned. I am a patient man, but I can be pushed too far. 
It seemed incredible, after what I had said to him, that Roderick 
Spode’s hat was still in the ring. I went to the door, and threw it 
open. It was even as Gussie had said. The man was lurking. 

He sagged a bit, as he saw me. I addressed him with cold 
severity. 

“Anything I can do for you, Spode ?” 

“No. No, nothing, thanks.” 

“Push along, Gussie,” I said, and stood watching him with a 
protective eye as he sidled round the human gorilla and dis- 
appeared along the passage. Then I turned to Spode. 

“Spode,” I said in a level voice, “did I or did I not tell you to 
leave Gussie alone ?” 

He looked at me pleadingly. 

“Couldn’t you possibly see your way to letting me do something 
to him, Wooster ? If it was only to kick his spine up through his 
hat?” 

“Certainly not.” 

“Well, just as you say, of course.” He scratched his cheek 
discontentedly. “Did you read that notebook, Wooster?” 

“No.” 

“He says my moustache is like the faint discoloured smear left 
by a squashed blackbeetle on the side of a kitchen sink.” 

“He always was a poetic sort of chap.” 

“And that the way I eat asparagus alters one’s whole conception 
of Man as Nature’s last word.” 

“Yes, he told me that, I remember. He’s about right, too. I was 
noticing at diimer. What you want to do, Spode, in future is lower 



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177 


the vegetable gently into the abyss. Take it easy. Don’t snap at 
it. Try to remember that you are a human being and not a 
shark.” 

“Ha, ha! ‘A human being and not a shark.’ Qeverly put, 
Wooster. Most amusing.” 

He was still chuckling, though not frightfully heartily I thought, 
when Jeeves came along with a decanter on a tray. 

“The brandy, sir.” 

“And about time, Jeeves.” 

“Yes, sir. I must once more apologize for my delay. I was 
detained by Constable Oates.” 

“Oh ? Chatting with him ag^in ?” 

“Not so much chatting, sir, as staunching the flow of blood.” 

“Blood?” 

“Yes, sir. The officer had met with an accident.” 

My momentary pique vanished, and in its place there came a 
stern joy. Life at Totleigh Towers had hardened me, blunting the 
gentler emotions, and I derived nothing but gratification from 
tile news that Constable Oates had been meeting with accidents. 
Only one thing, indeed, could have pleased me more — ^if I had 
been informed that Sir Watkyn Bassett had trodden on the soap 
and come a purler in the bath tub. 

“How did that happen ?” 

“He was assaulted while endeavouring to recover Sir Watkyn’s 
cow-creamer firom a midnight marauder, sir.” 

Spode uttered a cry. 

“The cow-creamer has not been stolen ?” 

“Yes sir.” 

It was evident that Roderidk Spode was deeply affected by the 
news. His attitude towards the cow-creamer had, if you re- 
member, been fatherly from the first. Not lingering to hear more, 
he galloped off, and I accompanied Jeeves into the room, agog 
for detafis. 

“What happened, Jeeves ?” 

“Well, sir, it was a little difficult to extract a coherent narrative 
from the officer, but I gather that he found himself restless and 
fidgety ” 

“No doubt owing to his inability to get in touch with Pop 
Bassett, who, as we know, is in his bath, and receive permission 
to leave his post and come up here after his hehnet.” 

“No doubt, sir. And being restless, he experienced a strong 



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desire to smoke a pipe. Reluctant, however, to run the risk of 
being found to have smoked while on duty — as might have been 
the case had he done so in an enclosed room, where the fumes 
would have lingered — ^he stepped out into the garden.” 

“A quick th^er, this Oates.” 

“He left the French window open behind him. And some little 
time later his attention was arrested by a sudden sound from 
within.” 

“What sort of sound ?” 

“The sound of stealthy footsteps, sir.” 

“Someone stepping stealthily, as it were?” 

“Precisely, sir. Followed by the breaking of glass. He imme- 
diately hastened back to the room — which was, of course, in 
darkness.” 

“Why?” 

“Because he had turned the light out, sir.” 

I nodded. I followed the idea. 

“Sir Watkyn’s instructions to him had been to keep his vigil 
in the dark, in order to convey to a marauder the impression that 
the room was unoccupied.” 

I nodded again. It was a dirty trick, but one which would 
spring naturally to the mind of an ex-magistrate. 

“He hurried to the case in which the cow-creamer had been 
deposited, and struck a match. This almost immediately went 
out, but not before he had been able to ascertain that the oijet 
d'art had disappeared. And he was still in the process of endeavour- 
ing to adjust himself to the discovery, when he heard a movement 
and, turning, perceived a dim figure stealing out through the 
French window. He pursued it into the garden, and was over- 
taking it and might shortly have succeeded in effecting an arrest, 
when there sprang from the darkness a dim figure 

“The same dim figure ?” 

“No, sir. Another one.” 

“A big night for dim figures.” 

“Yes, sir.” 

“Better call them Pat and Mike, or we shall be getting mixed.” 

“A and B perhaps, sir ?” 

“If you prefer it, Jeeves. He was overtaking dim figure A, you 
say, when dim figure B sprang from the darkness ” 

“ — and struck him upon the nose.” 

I uttered an exdamash. The thing was a mystery no longer. 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 179 

“Old Stinker!” 

“YeSj sir. No doubt Miss Byng inadvertently forgot to apprise 
hiin. that there had been a change in the evening’s arrange- 
ments.” 

“And he was lurking there, waiting for me.” 

“So one would be disposed to imagine, sir.” 

I inhaled deeply, my thoughts playing about the constable’s 
injured beezer. There, I was feeling, but for whatever it is, went 
Bertram Wooster, as the fellow said. 

“This assault Averted the officer’s attention, and the objea 
of his pursuit was enabled to escape.” 

“What became of Stinker ?” 

“On becoming aware of the officer’s identity, he apologized, 
sir. He then withdrew.” 

“I don’t blame him. A pretty good idea, at that. Well, I don’t 
know what to make of this, Jeeves. This dim figure. I am referring 
to dim figure A. Who could it have been? Had Oates any views 
on the subject ?” 

“Very definite views, sir. He is convinced that it was you.” 

I stared. 

“Me ? Why the dickens has everything that happens in this 
ghastly house got to be me ?” 

“And it is his intention, as soon as he is able to secure Sir 
Watkyn’s co-operation, to proceed here and search your room.” 

“He was going to do that, anyway, for the helmet.” 

“Yes, sir.” 

I couldn’t help smiling. The thing tickled me. 

“This is going to be rather funny, Jeeves. It will be entertaining 
to watch these two blighters ferret about, feeling sillier and sillier 
asses as each moment goes by and they find nothing.” 

“Most diverting, sir.” 

“And when the search is over and they are standing there 
baffled, stammering out weak apologies, I shall get a bit of my 
own back. I shall fold my arms and draw myself up to my full 
height 

There came from without the hoof-beats of a galloping relative, 
and Aunt Dahlia whizzed in. 

“Here, shove this away somewhere, young Bertie,” she panted, 
seeming touched in the wind. 

And so saying, she thrust the cow-creamer into my hands. 



12 


I N my recent picture of Sir Watkyn Bassett reeling beneath the 
blow of hearing that I wanted to marry into his family, I 
compared his garglings, if you remember, to the death rattle of 
a dying duck. I might now have been this duck’s twin brother, 
equally stricken. For some moments I stood there, quacking 
feebly: then with a powerful effort of the will I pulled myseS* 
together and cheesed the bird imitation. I looked at Jeeves. He 
looked at me. I did not speak, save with the language of the eyes, 
but his trained senses enabled him to read my thoughts un- 
erringly. 

‘^Thank you, Jeeves.” 

I took the tumbler from him, and lowered perhaps half an ounce 
of the raw spirit. Then, the dizzy spell overcome, I transferred 
my gaze to tJie aged relative, who was taking an easy in the arm- 
chair. 

It is pretty generally admitted, both in the Drones Club and 
elsewhere, that Bertram Wooster in his dealings with the opposite 
sex invariably shows himself a man of the nicest chivalry — what 
you sometimes hear described as a parfait gentil knight. It is true 
that at the age of six, when the blood ran hot, I once gave my 
nurse a juicy one over the top-knot with a porringer, but the 
lapse was merely a temporary one. Since then, though few men 
have been more sorely tried by the sex, I have never raised a 
hand against a woman. And I can give no better indication of 
my emotions at this moment than by saying that, preux chevalier 
though I am, I came within the veriest toucher of hauling off 
and letting a revered aunt have it on the side of the head with a 
papier mdche elephant — ^the only object on the mantelpiece which 
the fierce rush of life at Totleigh Towers had left stiU unbroken. 

She, while this struggle was proceeding in my bosom, was at 
her chirpiest. Her breath recovered, she had begun to prattle 
with a carefree gaiety which cut me like a knife. It was obvious 
from her demeanour that, stringing along with the late Diamond, 
she little knew what she had done. 

180 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


181 


“As nice a run,” she was saying, “as I have had since the last 
time I was out with the Berks and Bucks. Not a check from start 
to finish. Good clean British sport at its best. It was a close thing, 
though, Bertie. I could feel that cop’s hot breath on the back of 
my neck. If a posse of curates hadn’t popped up out of a trap 
and lent a willing hand at precisely the right moment, he vroiild 
have got me. Well, God bless the clergy, say I. A fine body of 
men. But what on earth were policemen doing on the premises ? 
Nobody ever mentioned policemen to me.” 

“That was Constable Oates, the vigilant guardian of the peace 
of Totleigh-in-the-Wold,” I replied, keeping a tight hold on 
myself lest I should howl like a banshee and shoot up to the 
ceiling. “Sir Watkyn had stationed him in the room to watch 
over his belongings. He was lying in wait. I was the visitor he 
expected.” 

“I’m glad you weren’t the visitor he got. The situation would 
have been completely beyond you, my poor lamb. You would 
have lost your head and stood there like a stuffed wombat, to 
fall an easy prey. I don’t mind telling you that when that man 
suddenly came in through the window, I myself was for a moment 
paralysed. StiU, all’s well that ends well.” 

I shook a sombre head. 

“You err, my misguided old object. This is not an end, but a 
beginning. Pop Bassett is about to spread a drag-net.” 

“Let him.” 

“And when he and the constable come and search this 
room ?” 

“They wouldn’t do that.” 

“They would and will. In the first place, they think the Oates 
helmet is here. In the second place, it is the oflEicer’s view, 
relayed to me by Jeeves, who had it from him first hand as he was 
staunching the flow of blood, that it was I whom he pursued.” 

Her chirpiness waned. I had expected it would. She had been 
beaming. She beamed no longer. Eyeing her steadily, I saw that 
the native hue of resolution had become sickhed o’er with the 
pale cast of thought. 

“H’m! This is awkward.” 

“Most.” 

“If they find the cow-creamer here, it may be a little difficult 
to explain.” 

She rose, and broke the elephant thoughtfully. 



182 


THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


“The great thing,” she said, “is not to lose our heads. We must 
say to ourselves: ‘What would Napoleon have done ?’ He was the 
boy in a crisis. He knew his onions. We must do something very 
dever, very shrewd, which will completely baffle these bounders. 
Well, come on, Fm waiting for suggestions.” 

“Mine is that you pop off without delay, taking that beastly 
cow with you.” 

“And run into the search-party on the stairs ! Not if I know it. 
Have you any ideas, Jeeves ?” 

“Not at the moment, madam.” 

“You can’t produce a guilty secret of Sir Watkyn’s out of the 
hat, as you did with Spode ?” 

“No, madam.” 

“No, I suppose that’s too much to ask. Then we’ve got to h ide 
the thing somewhere. But where ? It’s the old problem, of course 
— ^the one that makes life so tough for murderers — ^what to do 
with the body. I suppose the old Purloined Letter stunt wouldn’t 
work?” 

“Mrs. Travers is alluding to the well-known story by the late 
Edgar Allan Poe, sir,” said Jeeves, seeing that I was not abreast. 
“It deals with the theft of an important document, and the 
character who had secured it foiled the poHce by placing it 
in full view in a letter-rack, his theory being that what is obvious 
is often overlooked. No doubt Mrs. Travers wishes to suggest 
that we deposit the object on the mantelpiece.” 

I laughed a hollow one. 

“Take a look at the mantelpiece! It is as bare as a wind-swept 
prairie. Anything placed there would stick out like a sore thumb.” 

“Yes, that’s true,” Aunt Dahlia was forced to admit. 

“Put the bally thing in the suitcase, Jeeves.” 

“That’s no good. They’re bound to look there.” 

“Merely as a palliative,” I explained. “I can’t stand the sight 
of it any longer. In with it, Jeeves.” 

“Very good, sir.” 

A silence ensued, and it was just after Aunt Dahlia had broken 
it to say how about barricading the door and standing a siege that 
there came ftom the passage l±ie sound of approaching footsteps. 

“Here Ihiey are,” I said. 

“They seem in a hurry,” said Aunt Dahlia. 

She was correct. These were running footsteps. Jeeves went 
to the door and looked out. 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


183 


“It is Mr. Fink-Notde, sir.” 

And the next moment Gussie entered, going strongly. 

A single glance at him was enough to reved to the discerning 
eye that he had not been running just for the sake of the exercise. 
His spectacles were glittering in a hunted sort of way, and there 
was more than a touch of the fretful porpentine about his hair. 

“Do you mind if I hide here till the milk train goes, Bertie ?” 
he said. “Under the bed will do. I shan’t be in your way.” 

“What’s the matter ?” 

“Or, still better, the knotted sheet. That’s the stuff.” 

A snort like a minute-gun showed that Aunt Dahlia was in no 
welcoming mood. 

“Get out of here, you foul Spink-Botde,” she said curtly. 
“We’re in conference. Bertie, if an aunt’s wishes have any weight 
with you, you will stamp on this man with both feet and throw 
him out on his ear.” 

I raised a hand. 

“Wait! I want to get the strength of this. Stop messing about 
with those sheets, Gussie, and explain. Is Spode after you again ? 
Because, if so ” 

“Not Spode. Sir Watkyn.” 

Aunt Dahlia snorted again, like one giving an encore in res- 
ponse to a popular demand. 

“Bertie 

I raised another hand. 

“Half a second, old ancestor. How do you mean Sir Watkyn ? 
Why Sir Watkyn ? What on earth is he chivvying you for ?” 

“He’s read the notebook.” 

“What!” 

“Yes.” 

“Bertie, I am only a weak woman ” 

I raised a third hand. This was no time for listening to aunts. 

“Go on, Gussie,” I said duUy. 

He took off his spectacles and wiped them with a trembling 
handkerchief. You could see that he was a man who had passed 
through the furnace. 

“When I left you, I went to his room. The door was ajar, and 
I crept in. And when I had got in, I found that he hadn’t gone 
to have a bath, after all. He was sitting on the bed in his under- 
wear, reading the notebook. He looked up, and our eyes met. 
You’ve no notion what a frightful shock it gave me.” 



184 THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 

“Yes, I have. I once had a very similar experience with the 
Rev. Aubrey Upjohn.” 

“There was a long, dreadful pause. Then he uttered a sort of 
gurgling sound and rose, his face contorted. He made a leap in 
my direction. I pushed off. He followed. It was neck and neck 
down the stairs, but as we passed through the hall he stopped 
to get a hunting-crop, and tlds enabled me to secure a good Wd, 
which I ” 

“Bertie,” said Aunt Dahlia, “I am only a weak woman, but 
if you won’t tread on this insect and throw the remains outside, 
I shall have to see what I can do. The most tremendous issues 
hanging in the balance . . . Our plan of action still to be decided 
on . . . Every second of priceless importance . . . and he comes 
in here, telling us the story of his life. Spink-Bottle, you ghastly 
goggle-eyed piece of gorgonzola, will you hop it or will you not ?” 

There is a compelling force about the old flesh and blood, when 
stirred, which generally gets her listened to. People have told me 
that in her hunting days she could make her wishes respected 
across two ploughed fields and a couple of spinneys. The word 
“not” had left her lips like a high-powered shell, and Gussie, 
taking it between the eyes, rose some six inches into the air. 
When he returned to terra &ma, his manner was apologetic and 
conciliatory. 

“Yes, Mrs. Travers. Fm just going, Mrs. Travers. The moment 
we get the sheet working, Mrs. Travers. If you and Jeeves will 
just hold this end, Bertie . . .” 

“You want them to let you down from the window with a 
sheet ?” 

“Yes, Mrs. Travers. Then I can borrow Bertie’s car and drive 
to London.” 

“It’s a long drop.” 

“Oh, not so very, Mrs. Travers.” 

“You may break your neck.” 

“Oh, I don’t think: so, Mrs. Travers.” 

“But you may,” argued Aunt Dahlia. “Come on, Bertie,” she 
said, speaking with real enthusiasm, “hurry up. Let the man 
down with the sheet, can’t you ? What are you waiting for ?” 

I turned to Jeeves. “Ready, Jeeves ?” 

“Yes, sir.” He coughed gently. “And perhaps if Mr. Fink- 
Nottle is driving your car to London, he might take your suitcase 
with him and leave it at the fiat.” 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


185 


I gasped. So did Aunt Dahlia. I stared at him. Aunt Dahlia the 
same. Our eyes met, and I saw in hers the same reverent awe 
which I have no doubt she viewed in mine. 

I was overcome. A moment before, I had been dully conscious 
that nothing could save me from the soup. Already I had seemed 
to hear the beating of its wings. And now this ! 

Aunt Dahlia, speaking of Napoleon, had claimed that he was 
pretty hot in an emergency, but I was prepared to bet that not 
even Napoleon could have topped this superb effort. Once 
more, as so often in the past, the man had rung the bell and was 
entitled to the cigar or coconut. 

‘‘Yes, Jeeves,’^ I said, speaking with some difficulty, “that is 
true. He might, mightn’t he ?” 

“Yes, sir.” 

“You won’t mind taking my suitcase, Gussie? If you’re 
borrowing the car, I shall have to go by train. I’m leaving in the 
morning myself. And it’s a nuisance hauling about a lot of 
luggage.” 

“Of course.” 

“We’ll just loose you down on the sheet and drop the suitcase 
after you. All set, Jeeves ?” 

“Yes, sir.” 

“Then upsy-daisy!” 

I don’t think I have ever assisted at a ceremony which gave 
such universal pleasure to aU concerned. The sheet didn’t spHt, 
which pleased Gussie. Nobody came to interrupt us, which 
pleased me. And when I dropped the suitcase, it hit Gussie on 
the head, which delighted Aunt Dahlia. As for Jeeves, one could 
see that the faithful fellow was tickled pink at having been able 
to cluster round and save the young master in his hour of peril. 
His motto is “Service”. 

The stormy emotions through which I had been passing had 
not unnaturally left me weak, and I was glad when Aunt Dahlia, 
after a powerful speech in which she expressed her gratitude to 
our preserver in weU-phrased terms, said that she would hop 
along and see what was going on in the enemy’s camp. Her 
departure enabled me to sink into the arm-chair in which, had 
she remained, she would unquestionably have parked herself 
indeftoitely. I flung myself on the cushioned seat and emitted a 
woof that came straight from the heart. 

“So that’s that, Jeeves!” 



186 


THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


‘Tes, sir/’ 

^‘Once again your swift thinMng has averted disaster as it 
loomed.” 

“It is very kind of you to say so^ sir.” 

“Not kindi Jeeves. I am merely saying what any thinking man 
would say. I didn’t chip in while Aunt Dahlia was speaking, for 
I saw that she wished to have the floor, but you may take it that 
I was silently subscribing to every sentiment she uttered. You 
stand done, Jeeves. What size hat do you take ?” 

“A number eight, sir.” 

“I should have thought larger. Eleven or twelve.” 

I helped myself to a spot of brandy, and sat rolling it round my 
tongue luxuriantly. It was delightful to relax after the strain and 
stress I had been through. 

“Well, Jeeves, the going has been pretty tough, what ?” 

“Extremely, sir,” 

“One begins to get some idea of how the skipper of the 
Hesperus*^ little daughter must have felt. Still, I suppose these 
tests and trials are good for the character.” 

“No doubt, sir.” 

“Strengthening.” 

“Yes, sir.” 

“However, I can’t say I’m sorry it’s all over. Enough is always 
enough. And it is all over, one feels. Even this sinister house can 
surely have no further shocks to offer,” 

“I imagine not, sir.” 

“No, this is the finish. Totleigh Towers has shot its bolt, and 
at long last we are sitting pretty. Gratifying, Jeeves.” 

“Most gratifying, sir.” 

“You bet it is. Carry on with the packing. I want to get it done 
and go to bed.” 

He opened the small suitcase, and I lit a cigarette and pro- 
ceeded to stress the moral lesson to be learned from all this 
rannygazoo. 

“Yes, Jeeves, ‘gratifying’ is the word. A short while ago, the 
air was congested with V-shaped depressions, but now one looks 
north, south, east and west and descries not a single cloud on the 
horizon — except the fact that Gussie’s wedding is stiU off, and 
that can’t be helped. Well, this should certainly teach us, should 
it not, never to repine, never to despair, never to allow the upper 
lip to unstiffen, but always to remember that, no matter how dark 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 187 

the skies may be^ the sun is shining somewhere and will eventu- 
ally come smiling through.” 

I paused. I perceived that I was not securing his attention. He 
was looking down with an intent^ thoughtful expression on his 
face. 

“Something the matter, Jeeves ?” 

“Sir ?” 

“You appear preoccupied.” 

“Yes, sir. I have just discovered that there is a policeman’s 
helmet in this suitcase.” 



13 


I HAD been right about the strengthening eflfect on the character 
of the vicissitudes to which I had been subjected since clocking 
in at the country residence of Sir Watkyn Bassett. Little by litde, 
bit by bit, they had been moulding me, turning me from a 
sensitive dubman and boulevardier to a man of chilled steel. 
A novice to conditions in this pest house, abruptly handed the 
news item which I had just been handed, would, I imagine, have 
rolled up the eyeballs and swooned where he sat. But I, toughened 
and fortified by the routine of one damn thing after another 
which constituted life at Totleigh Towers, was enabled to keep 
my head and face the issue. 

I don’t say I didn’t leave my chair like a jack-rabbit that has 
sat on a cactus, but having risen I wasted no time in finiitless 
twitterings. I went to the door and locked it. Then, tight-lipped 
and pale, I came back to Jeeves, who had now taken the helmet 
from the suitcase and was oscillating it meditatively by its 
strap. 

His first words showed me that he had got the wrong angle 
on the situation. 

“It would have been wiser, sir,” he said with faint reproach, 
“to have selected some more adequate hiding place.” 

I shook my head. I may even We smiled— wanly, of course. 
My swift intelligence had enabled me to probe to the bottom of 
this thing. 

“Not me, Jeeves. Stiffy.” 

“Sir?” 

“The hand that placed that helmet there was not mine, but 
that of S. B3mg. She had it in her room. She feared lest a search 
might be instituted, and when I last saw her was trying to think 
of a safer spot. This is her idea of one.” 

I sighed. 

“How do you imagine a girl gets a mind like Stiffy’s, Jeeves ?” 
“Certainly the young lady is somewhat eccentric in her actions, 
sir.' 


188 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


189 


“Eccentric ? She could step straight into Colney Hatch^ and 
no questions asked. They would lay down the red carpet for her. 
The more the thoughts dwell on that young shrimp, the more the 
soul sickens in horror. One peers into the future, and shudders 
at what one sees there. One has to face it, Jeeves — Stiffy, who is 
pure padded cell from the foundations up, is about to marry the 
Rev. H. P, Pinker, himself about as pronounced a goop as ever 
broke bread, and there is no reason to suppose — one has to face 
this, too — ^that their union will not be blessed. There will, that is 
to say, *ere long be little feet pattering about the home. And what 
one asks oneself is — ^Just how safe will human life be in the 
vicinity of those feet, assuming — as one is forced to assume — ^that 
they wH inherit the combined loopiness of two such parents ? 
It is with a sort of tender pity, Jeeves, that I think of the nurses, 
the governesses, the private-school masters and the public-school 
masters who lightly take on the responsibility of looking 
after a blend of Stephanie Byng and Harold Pinker, little knowing 
that they are coming up against something hotter than mustard. 
However,’’ I went on, abandoning these speculations, “all this, 
though of absorbing interest, is not really germane to the issue. 
Contemplating that helmet and bearing in mind the fact that the 
Oates-Bassett comedy duo will be arriving at any moment to 
start their search, what would you recommend ?” 

“It is a little difficult to say, sir. A really effective hiding place 
for so bulky an object does not readily present itself.” 

“No. The damn thing seems to fill the room, doesn’t it ?” 

“It unquestionably t^kes the eye, sir.” 

“Yes. The authorities wrought well when they shaped this 
helmet for Constable Oates. They aimed to finish him off im- 
pressively, not to give him something which would balance on 
top of his head like a peanut, and they succeeded. You couldn’t 
hide a lid like this in an impenetrable jungle. Ah, well,” I said, 
“we will just have to see what tact and suavity will do. I wonder 
when these birds are going to arrive. I suppose we may expect 
them very shortly. Ah! That would be the hand of doom now, if 
I mistake not, Jeeves.” 

But in assuming that the knocker who had just knocked on the 
door was Sir Watkyn Bassett, I had erred. It was Stiffy’s voice 
that spoke. 

“Bertie, let me in.” 

There was nobody I was more anxious to see, but I did not 



190 


THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


immediately fling wide the gates. Prudence dictated a preliminary 
inquiry. 

“Have you got that bally dog of yours with you ?” 

“No. He’s being aired by the butler.” 

“In that case, you may enter.” 

When she did so, it was to find Bertram confronting her with 
folded arms and a hard look. She appeared, however, not to note 
my forbidding exterior. 

“Bertie, darling 

She broke off, checked by a fairly animal snarl from the 
Wooster lips. 

“Not so much of the ‘Bertie, darling’. I have just one thing 
to say to you, young Stifiy, and it is this; Was it you who put that 
helmet in my suitcase ?” 

“Of course it was. That’s what I was coming to talk to you 
about. You remember I was trying to think of a good place. I 
racked the brain quite a bit, and then suddenly I got it.” 

“And now I’ve got it.” 

The acidity of my tone seemed to surprise her. She regarded 
me with girlish wonder — ^the wide-eyed Wnd. 

“But you don’t mind, do you, Bertie, darling?” 

“Ha!” 

“But why? I thought you would be so glad to help me 
out.” 

“Oh, yes ?” I said, and I meant it to sting. 

“I couldn’t risk having Uncle Wati^ find it in my room.” 

“You preferred to have him find it in mine ?” 

“But how can he ? He can’t come searching your room.” 

“He can’t, eh?” 

“Of course not. You’re his guest.” 

“And you suppose that that will cause him to hold his hand ?” 
I snuled one of those bitter, sardonic snules. “I think you are 
attributing to the old poison germ a niceness of feeling and a 
respect for the laws of hospitdity which nothing in his record 
suggests that he possesses. You can take it from me that he 
definitely is going to search the room, and I imagine that the only 
reason he hasn’t arrived already is that he is still scouring the 
house for Gussie.” 

“Gussie ?” 

“He is at the moment chasing Gussie with a hunting-crop. 
But a man cannot go on doing that indefinitely. Sooner or later 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 191 

he will g?ve it up, and then we shall have him here, complete with 
mag nifying glass and bloodhounds.” 

The gravity of the situash had at last impressed itself upon her. 
She uttered a squeak of dismay, and her eyes became a bit soup- 
platey. 

“Oh, Bertie! Then I’m afraid I’ve put you in rather a 
spot.” 

“That covers the facts like a dust-sheet.” 

“I’m sorry now I ever asked Harold to pinch the thing. It 
was a mistake. I admit it. StiU, after all, even if Uncle Watkyn 
does come here and find it, it doesn’t matter much, does it ?” 

“Did you hear that, Jeeves ?” 

“Yes, sir.” 

“So ^d I. I see. It doesn’t matter, you feel ?” 

“Well, what I mean is your reputation won’t really suffer much, 
will it? Everybody knows that you can’t keep your hands off 
policemen’s helmets. This’ll be just another one.” 

“Ha! And what leads you to suppose, young Stiffy, that when 
the Assyrian comes down like a wolf on the fold I shall meekly 
assume the guilt and not blazon the truth — what, Jeeves ?” 

“Forth to the world, sir.” 

“Thank you, Jeeves. What makes you suppose that I shall 
meekly assume the guilt and not blazon the truth forth to the 
world ?” 

I wouldn’t have supposed that her eyes could have widened 
any more, but they (hd perceptibly. Another dismayed squeak 
escaped her. Indeed, such was its volmne that it might perhaps 
be better to call it a squeal. 

“But, Bertie!” 

“WeU?” 

“Bertie, listen!” 

“I’m listening.” 

“Surely you will take tlie rap ? You can’t let Harold get it in 
the neck. You were telling me this afternoon that he would be 
unfrocked. I won’t have him unfrocked. Where is he going to get 
if they unfrock bim ? That sort of thing gives a curate a frightful 
black eye. Why can’t you say you did it ? All it would mean is that 
you would be kicked out of the house, and I don’t suppose you’re 
so anxious to stay on, are you ?” 

“Possibly you are not aware that your bally unde is proposing 
to send the perpetrator of this outrage to chokey.” 



192 


THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


“Oh, no. At the worst, just a fine.” 

“Nothing of the Mnd. He specifically told me chokey.” 

“He didn’t mean it. I expect there was ” 

“No, there was not a twinkle in his eye.” 

“Then that settles it. I can’t have my precious, angd Harold 
doing a stretch.” 

“How about your precious, angel Bertram ?” 

“But Harold’s sensitive.” 

“So am I sensitive.” 

“Not half so sensitive as Harold. Bertie, surely you aren’t 
going to be difl&cult about this ? You’re much too good a sport. 
Didn’t you teU me once that the Code of the Woosters was 
‘Never let a pal down’ ?” 

She had foimd the talking point. People who appeal to the 
Code of the Woosters rarely fail to touch a chord in Bertram. 
My iron front began to crumble. 

“That’s aU very fin e ” 

“Bertie, darling!” 

“Yes, I know, but, dash it all ” 

“Bertie!” 

“Oh, weE!” 

“You win take the rap ?” 

“I suppose so.” 

She yodeUed ecstaticaHy, and I think that if I had not side- 
stepped she would have flung her arms about my neck. Certainly 
she came leaping forward with some such purpose apparently in 
view. Foiled by my agility, she began to tear off a few steps of 
that Spring dance to which she was so addicted. 

“Thank you, Bertie, darling. I knew you would be sweet about 
it. I can’t teE you how grateful I am, and how much I admire 
you. You remind me of Carter Paterson . . . no, that’s not it 
. . . Nick Carter ... no, not Nick Carter . . . Who does Mr. 
Wooster remind me of, Jeeves ?” 

“Sidney Carton, miss.” 

“That’s right. Sidney Carton. But he was smaE-time stuff 
compared with you, Bertie. And, anyway, I expect we are getting 
the wind up quite unnecessarEy. Why are we taking it for 
granted that Uncle Watkyn wiE find the helmet, if he comes and 
searches the room? There are a hundred places where you can 
hide it.” 

And before I could say “Name three!” she had pirouetted to 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 193 

the door and pirouetted out. I could hear her dying away in the 
distance with a song on the lips. 

My own^ as I turned to Jeeves^ were twisted in a bitter smile. 

“Women, Jeeves!” 

“Yes, sir.” 

“Weil, Jeeves,” I said, my hand stealing towards the decanter, 
“this is the end!” 

“No, sir.” 

I started with a violence that nearly unshipped my front uppers. 

“Not the end?” 

“No, sir.” 

“You don’t mean you have an idea ?” 

“Yes, sir.” 

“But you told me just now you hadn’t.” 

“Yes, sir. But since then I have been giving the matter some 
thought, and am now in a position to say ‘Eureka!’ ” 

“Say what?” 

“Eureka, sir. Like Archimedes.” 

“Did he say Eureka ? I thought it was Shakespeare.” 

“No, sir. Archimedes. What I would recommend is that you 
drop the helmet out of the window. It is most improbable that 
it will occur to Sir Watkyn to search the exterior of the premises, 
and we shall be able to recover it at our leisure.” He paused, and 
stood listening. “Should this suggestion meet with your approval, 
sir, I feel that a certain haste would be advisable. I fancy I can 
hear the sound of approaching footsteps.” 

He was right. The air was vibrant with their clumping. Assum- 
ing that a herd of bison was not making its way along the second- 
floor passage of Totleigh Towers, the enemy were upon us. With 
the nippiness of a lamb in the fold on observing the approach of 
Assyrians, I snatched up the helmet, bounded to the window and 
loosed the thing into the night. And scarcely had I done so, when 
the door opened, and through it came — ^in the order named — 
Aunt Dahlia, wearing an amused and indulgent look, as if she 
were joining in some game to please the children: Pop Bassett, 
in a purple dressing-gown, and Police Constable Oates, who was 
dabbing at his nose with a pocket-handkerchief. 

“So sorry to disturb you, Bertie,” said the aged relative 
courteously. 

“Not at all,” I replied with equal suavity. “Is there something 
I can do for the mtdtitude ?” 



194 


THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


“Sir Watigm has got some extraordinary idea into his bea d 
about wanting to search your room.” 

“Search my room ?” 

“I intend to search it from top to bottom,” said old Bassett, 
looking very Bosher Street-y. 

I glanced at Aunt Dahlia, raising the eyebrows. 

“I don’t understand. What’s aU. this about ?” 

She laughed indulgently. 

“You scarcely beheve it, Bertie, but he think s that cow- 
creamer of his is here.” 

“Is it missing ?” 

“It’s been stolen.” 

“You don’t say!” 

“Yes.” 

“Weil, well, well!” 

“He’s very upset about it.” 

“I don’t wonder.” 

“Most distressed.” 

“Poor old bloke!” 

I placed a kindly hand on Pop Bassett’s shoulder. Probably the 
wrong thing to do, I can see, looking back, for it did not soothe. 

“I can do without your condolences, Mr. Wooster, and I 
should be glad if you would not refer to me as a bloke. I have 
every reason to believe that not only is my cow-creamer in your 
possession, but Constable Oates’s helmet, as well.” 

A cheery guffaw seemed in order. I uttered it. 

“Ha, ha!” 

Aunt Dahlia came across with another. 

“Ha, ha!” 

“How dashed absurd!” 

“Perfectly ridiculous.” 

“What on earth would I be doing with cow-creamers ?” 

“Or policemen’s helmets ?” 

“Quite.” 

“Did you ever hear such a weird idea ?” 

“Never. My dear old host,” I said, “let us keep perfectly calm 
and cool and get aU this straightened out. In the Mndliest spirit, 
I must point out that you are on the verge — if not slightly past 
the verge — of making an ass of yourself. This sort of thing won’t 
do, you know. You can’t dash about accusing people of nameless 
crimes without a shadow of evidence.” 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


195 


“I have all the evidence I require, Mr. Wooster.” 

“That’s what you think. And that, I maintain, is where you 
are making the floater of a lifetime. When was this modem Dutch 
gadget of yours abstracted ?” 

He quivered beneath the thrust, pinkening at the tip of the 
nose. 

“It is not modern Dutch!” 

“Well, we can thresh that out later. The point is: When did it 
leave the premises ?” 

“It has not left the premises.” 

“That, again, is what you think. Well, when was it stolen?” 

“About twenty minutes ago.” 

“Then there you are. Twenty minutes ago I was up here in 
my room.” 

This ratded him. I had thought it would. 

“You were in your room ?” 

“In my room.” 

“Alone?” 

“On the contrary. Jeeves was there,” 

“Who is Jeeves ?” 

“Don’t you know Jeeves? This is Jeeves. Jeeves ... Sir 
Watkyn Bassett.” 

“And who may you be, my man ?” 

“That’s exactly what he is — ^my man. May I say my right-hand 
man?” 

“Thank you, sir.” 

“Not at all, Jeeves. Well-earned tribute.” 

Pop Bassett’s face was disfigured, if you could disfigure a face 
like his, by an ugly sneer. 

“I regret, Mr. Wooster, that I am not prepared to accept as 
conclusive evidence of your innocence the unsupported word of 
your manservant.” 

“Unsupported, eh ? Jeeves, go and page Mr. Spode, Tell him 
I want him to come and put a bit of stuffing into my alibi.” 

“Very good, sir.” 

He shimmered away, and Pop Bassett seemed to swallow some- 
thing hard and jagged. 

“Was Roderick Spode with you ?” 

“Certainly he was. Perhaps you will believe him ?” 

“Yes, I would believe Roderick Spode.” 

“Very well, then. He’ll be here in a moment.” 



196 


THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


He appeared to muse. 

“I see. Wella apparently I was wrongs then^ in supposing that 
you are concealing my cow-creamer. It must have been purloined 
by somebody else.’’ 

“Outside job, if you ask me/’ said Aunt Dahlia, 

“Possibly the work of an international gang/’ I hazarded. 

“Very likely.” 

“I expect it was all over the place that Sir Watkyn had bought 
the thing. You remember Uncle Tom had been counting on 
getting it, and no doubt he told all sorts of people where it had 
gone. It wouldn’t take long for the news to filter through to the 
international gangs. They keep their ear to the ground.” 

“Damn clever, those gangs,” assented the aged relative. 

Pop Bassett had seemed to me to wince a trifle at the mention 
of Uncle Tom’s name. Guilty conscience doing its stuff, no doubt 
— ^gnawing, as these guilty consciences do. 

“Well, we need not discuss the matter further,” he said. “As 
regards the cow-creamer, I admit that you have established your 
case. We will now turn to Constable Oates’s helmet. That, Mr. 
Wooster, I happen to know positively, is in your possession.” 

“Oh, yes ?” 

“Yes. The constable received specific information on the point 
from an eyewitness. I will proceed, therefore, to search your room 
without delay.” 

“You really feel you want to ?” 

“I do.” 

I shrugged the shoulders. 

“Very well,” I said, “very well. If that is the spirit in which 
you interpret the duties of a host, carry on. We invite inspection. 
I can only say that you appear to have extraordinarily rummy 
views on maldng your guests comfortable over the week-end. 
Don’t count on my coming here again.” 

I had expressed the opinion to Jeeves that it would be enter- 
taining to stand by and watch this blighter and his colleague 
ferret about, and so it proved. I don’t know when I have ex- 
tracted more solid amusement from anything. But all these good 
things have to come to an end at last. About ten minutes later, 
it was plain that the bloodhounds were planning to call it off 
and pack up. 

To say that Pop Bassett was wry, as he desisted from his efforts 
and turned to me, would be to understate it. 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


197 


‘‘I appear to owe you an apology, Mr. Wooster.” he said. 

“Sir W. Bassett,” I rejoined, ‘"‘you never spoke a truer word.” 

And folding my arms and drawing myself up to my full height, 
I let him have it. 

The exact words of my harangue have, I am sorry to say, 
escaped my memory. It is a pity that there was nobody taking 
them down in shordiand, for I am not exaggerating when I say 
that I surpassed myself. Once or twice, when a bit lit at routs and 
revels, I have spoken with an eloquence which, rightly or wrongly, 
has won the plaudits of the Drones Club, but I don’t think that 
I have ever quite reached the level to which I now soared. You 
could see the stuffing trickling out of old Bassett in great heaping 
handfuls. 

But as I rounded into my peroration, I suddenly noticed that 
I was failing to grip. He had ceased to listen, and was staring 
past me at something out of my range of vision. And so worth 
looking at did this spectacle, judging from his expression, appear 
to be that I turned in order to take a dekko. 

It was the butler who had so riveted Sir Watkyn Bassett’s 
attention. He was standing in the doorway, holding in his right 
hand a silver salver. And on that salver was a policeman’s 
helmet. 



14 


I REMEMBER old Stinker Pinker, who towards the end of his 
career at Oxford used to go in for social service in London’s 
tougher districts, describing to me once in some detail the sen* 
sations he had experienced one afternoon, while spreading the 
light in Bethnal Green, on being imexpectedly kicked in the 
stomach by a costermonger. It gave him, he told me, a strange, 
dreamy feeling, together with an odd illusion of having walked 
into a thick fog. And the reason I mention it is that my own 
emotions at this moment were extraordinarily similar. 

When I had last seen this butler, if you recollect, on the 
occasion when he had come to tell me that Madeline Bassett 
would be glad if I could spare her a moment, I mentioned that 
he had flickered. It was not so much at a flickering butler that 
I was gazing now as at a sort of heaving mist with a vague 
suggestion of something buderine vibrating inside it. Then the 
scSies fell from my eyes, and I was enabled to note the reactions 
of the rest of the company. 

They were all taking it extremely big. Pop Bassett, like the 
chap in the poem which I had to write out fifty times at school 
for introducing a white mouse into the English Literature hour, 
was plainly feeling like some watcher of the skies when a new 
planet swims into his ken, while Aunt Dahlia and Constable Oates 
resembled respectively stout Cortez staring at the Pacific and all 
his men looking at each other with a wild surmise, silent upon a 
peak in Darien. 

It was a goodish while before anybody stirred. Then, with a 
choking cry like that of a mother spotting her long-lost child in 
the ofl&ng. Constable Oates swooped forward and grabbed the 
lid, clasping it to his bosom with visible ecstasy. 

The movement seemed to break the spell. Old Bassett came to 
life as if someone had pressed a button. 

“Where — ^where did you get that, Butterfield ?” 

“I found it in a flower-bed. Sir Watkyn.” 

“In a flower-bed ?” 


198 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 199 

“Odd,” I said. “Very strai^e.” 

“Yes, sir. I was airing Miss Byng’s dog, and happening to be 
passing the side of die house I observed Mr. Wooster drop some- 
thing from his window. It fell into the flower-bed beneath, and 
upon inspection proved to be this helmet.” 

Old Bassett drew a deep breath. 

“Thank you, Butterfield.” 

The butler breezed off, and old B., revolving on his axis, faced 
me with gleaming pince-nez. 

“So!” he said. 

There is never very much you can do in the way of a t elling 
come-back when a fellow sa3rs “Sol” to you. I preserved a 
judicious silence. 

“Some mistake,” said Aunt Dahlia, taking the floor with an 
intrepidity which became her well. “Probably came from one of 
the other windows. Easy to get confused on a dark night.” 

“Tchah!” 

“Or it may be that the man was lying. Yes, that seems a 
plausible explanation. I think I see it all. This Butterfield of 
yours is the guilty man. He stole the helmet, and knowing that the 
hunt was up and detection imminent, decided to play a bold game 
and try to shove it off on Bertie. Eh, Bertie ?” 

“I shouldn’t wonder. Aunt Dahlia. I shouldn’t wonder at all.” 

“Yes, that is what must have happened. It becomes clearer 
every moment. You can’t trust these saintly-looking butlers an 
inch.” 

“Not an inch.” 

“I remember thinking the fellow had a furtive eye.” 

“Me, too.” 

“You noticed it yourself, did you ?” 

“Right away.” 

“He reminds me of Murgatroyd. Do you remember Murga- 
troyd at Brinkley, Bertie ?” 

“The feUow before Pomeroy ? Stoutish cove ?” 

“That’s right. With a face Ukeamore than usually respectable 
archbishop. Took us all in, that face. We trusted him implicitly. 
And what was the result? Fellow pinched a fish slice, put it up 
the spout and squandered the proceeds at the dog races. This 
Butterfield is another Murgatroyd.” 

“Some relation, perhaps.” 

“I shouldn’t be surprised. Well, now that that’s all satis- 



200 THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 

factorily settled and Bertie dismissed without a stain on his 
character, how about all going to bed ? It’s getting late, and if I 
don’t have my eight hours, I’m a rag.” 

She had injected into the proceedings such a pleasant atmo- 
sphere of all-pals-together and hearty let’s-say-no-more-about-it 
that it came quite as a shock to find that old Bassett was failing 
to see eye to eye. He proceeded immediately to strike the jarrine 
note. 

“With your theory that somebody is lying, Mrs. Travers, I am 
in complete agreement. But when you assert that it is my buder, 
I must join issue with you. Mr. Wooster has been exceedingly 
clever — ^most ingenious ” 

“Oh, thanks.” 

“ — ^but I am afraid that I find myself unable to dismiss him, 
as you suggest, without a stain on his character. In fact, to be 
frank with you, I do not propose to dismiss him at all.” 

He gave me the pince-nez in a cold and menacing manner. I 
can’t remember when I’ve seen a man I Uked the look of less. 

“You may possibly recall, Mr. Wooster, that in the course of 
our conversation in the libr^ I informed you that I took the 
very gravest view of this affair. Your suggestion that I might be 
content with inflicting a fine of five pounds, as was the case when 
you appeared before me at Bosher Street convicted of a similar 
outrage, I declared myself unable to accept. I assured you that 
the perpetrator of this wanton assault on the person of Constable 
Oates would, when apprehended, serve a prison sentence. I see 
no reason to revise that decision.” 

This statement had a mixed press. Eustace Oates obviously 
approved. He looked up from the helmet with a quick, encourag- 
ing smile and but for the iron restraint of discipline would, I 
think, have said “Hear, hear!” Aunt Dahlia and I, on the other 
hand, didn’t like it. 

“Here, come, I say now. Sir Watkyn, really, dash it,” she 
expostulated, always on her toes when the interests of the clan 
were threatened. “You can’t do that sort of thing.” 

“Madam, I both can and wiU.” He twiddled a hand in the 
direction of Eustace Oates. “Constable!” 

He didn’t add “Arrest this man!” or “Do your duty!” but the 
officer got the gist. He clumped forward zealously. I was rather 
expecting him to lay a hand on my shoulder or to produce the 
gyves and apply them to my wrists, but he didn’t. He merely 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 201 

lined up beside me as if we were going to do a duet and stood 
there looking puff-faced. 

Aimt Dahlia continued to plead and reason. 

“But you can’t invite a man to your house and the moment he 
steps inside the door calmly bung him into the coop. If that is 
Gloucestershire hospitality, then Heaven help Glocestershire.” 

“Mr. Wooster is not here on my invitation, but on my 
daughter’s.” 

“That makes no difference. You can’t vmggle out of it like 
that. He is your guest. He has eaten your salt. And let me tell 
you, while we are on the subject, that there was a lot too much of it 
in the soup to-night.” 

“Oh, would you say that ?” I said. “Just about right, it seemed 
to me.” 

“No. Too salty.” 

Pop Bassett intervened. 

“I must apologize for the shortcomings of my cook. I may be 
making a change before long. Meanwhile, to return to the subject 
with which we were dealing, Mr. Wooster is under arrest, and 
to-morrow I shall take the necessary steps to ” 

“And what’s going to happen to liim to-night ?” 

“We maintain a small but serviceable police station in the 
village, presided over by Constable Oates. Oates will doubtless 
be able to find him accommodation.” 

“You aren’t proposing to lug the poor chap off to a police 
station at this time of night ? You could at least let him doss in a 
decent bed.” 

“Yes, I see no objection to that. One does not wish to be unduly 
harsh. You may remain in this room until to-morrow, Mr. 
Wooster.” 

“Oh, thanks.” 

“I shall lock the door ” 

“Oh, quite.” 

“And take charge of the key ” 

“Oh, rather.” 

“And Constable Oates will patrol beneath the window for the 
remainder of the night.” 

“Sir?” 

“This wiU check Air. Wooster’s known propensity for dropping 
things from windows. You had better take up your station at once, 
Oates.” 



202 


THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


“Very good, sir.” 

There was a note of quiet anguish in the officer’s voice, and it 
was plain that the smug satisfection with which he had been 
watching the progress of events had waned. His views on getting 
his eight hours were apparently the same as Aunt Dahlia’s. 
Saluting sadly, he left the room in a depressed sort of way. He 
had his helmet again, but you could see that he was beginning 
to ask himself if helmets were everything, 

“And now, Mrs. Travers, I should like, if I may, to have a word 
with you in private.” 

They oiled off, and I was alone. 

I don’t mind confessing that my emotions, as the key turned 
in the lock, were a bit poignant. On the one hand, it was nice to 
feel that I had got my bedroom to myself for a few irdnutes, but 
against that you had to put the fact that I was in what is known 
as durance vile and not likely to get out of it. 

Of course, this was not new stuff to me, for I had heard the 
bars clang outside my cell door that time at Bosher Street. But 
on that occasion I had been able to buoy myself up with the 
reflection that the worst the aftermath was likely to provide was 
a rebuke from the bench or, as subsequently proved to be the 
case, a punch in the pocket-book. I was not faced, as I was 
faced now, by the prospect of waking on the morrow to begin 
serving a sentence of thirty days’ duration in a prison where it 
was most improbable that I would be able to get my morning 
cup of tea. 

Nor did the consciousness that I was innocent seem to help 
much, I drew no consolation from the fact that Stiffy Byng 
thought me like Sidney Carton. I had never met the chap, but 
I gathered that he was somebody who had taken it on the chin 
to oblige a girl, and to my mind this was enough to stamp him 
as a priceless ass. Sidney Carton and Bertram Wooster, I felt — 
nothffig to choose between them. Sidney, one of the mugs — 
Bertram, the same. 

I went to the window and looked out. Recalling the moody 
distaste which Constable Oates had exhibited at the suggestion 
that he should stand guard during the night hours, I had a faint 
hope that, once the eye of authority was removed, he might have 
ducked the assignment and gone off to get his beauty sleep. But 
no. There he was, padding up and down on the lawn, the picture 
of vigilance. And I had just gone to the washhand-stand to get a 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 203 

cake of soap to bung at him, feeling that this might soothe the 
bruised spirit a litde, when I heard the door handle rattle. 

I stepped across and put my Kps to the woodwork. 

“HuKo.” 

“It is I, sir. Jeeves.” 

“Oh, huUo, Jeeves.” 

“The door appears to be locked, sir.” 

“And you can take it from me, Jeeves, that appearances 
do not deceive. Pop Bassett locked it, and has trousered the key.” 
“Sir?” 

“Fve been pinched.” 

“Indeed, sir?” 

“What was that?” 

“I said ‘Indeed, sir ?’ ” 

“Oh, did you ? Yes, Yes, indeed. And FU teU you why.” 

I gave him a precis of what had happened. It was not easy to 
hear, with a door between us, but I tWnk the narrative ehciteda 
spot of respectful mt-tutting. 

“Unfortunate, sir.” 

“Most. Well, Jeeves, what is your news ?” 

“I endeavoured to locate Mr. Spode, sir, but he had gone for a 
walk in the grounds. No doubt he wiK be returning shordy.” 

“Well, we shan’t require him now. The rapid march of events 
has taken us far past the point where Spode could have been of 
service. Anything else been happening at your end ?” 

“I have had a word with Miss Byng, sir.” 

“I should like a word with her myself. What had she to say ?” 

“The young lady was in considerable distress of mind, sir, 
her union with the Reverend Mr. Piiiker having been forbidden 
by Sir Watkyn.” 

“Good Lord, Jeeves ! Why ?” 

“Sir Watkyn appears to have taken umbrage at the part played 
by Mr. Pinker in aUowing the purloiner of the cow-creamer to 
effect his escape.” 

“Why do you say ‘his’?” 

“From motives of prudence, sir. WaKs have ears.” 

“I see what you mean. That’s rather neat, Jeeves.” 

“Thank you, sir.” 

I mused a while on this latest development. There were cer- 
tainly aching hearts in Gloucestershire ill right this p.m. I was 
conscious of a pang of pity. Despite the fact that it was entirely 



204 


THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


owing to Stiflfy that I found my^df in my present predic., I 
wished the young loony well and mourned for her in her hour of 
disaster. 

“So he has bunged a spanner into Stiflfy’s romance as well as 
Gussie’s, has he ? That old bird has certainly been throwing his 
weight about to-night, Jeeves.” 

“Yes, sir.” 

“And not a thing to be done about it, as far as I can see. Can 
you see anything to be done about it ?” 

“No, sir:” 

“And switching to another aspect of the affair, you haven’t 
any immediate plans for getting me out of this, I suppose ?” 

“Not adequately formulated, sir . I am turning over an idea in my 
mind.” 

“Turn well, Jeeves. Spare no effort.” 

“But it is at present merely nebulous.” 

“It involves finesse, I presume ?” 

“Yes, sir.” 

I shook my head. Waste of time really, of course, because he 
couldn’t see me. Still, I shook it. 

“It’s no good trsdng to be subtie and snaky now, Jeeves. What 
is required is rapid action. And a thought has occurred to me. 
We were speaking not long since of the time when Sir Roderick 
Glossop was immured in the potting-shed, with Constable 
Dobson guarding every exit. Do you remember what old Pop 
Stoker’s idea was for coping with the situation ?” 

“If I recollect rightly, sir, Mr. Stoker advocated a physical 
assault upon the officer. ‘Bat him over the head with a shovel!’ 
was, as I recall, his expression.” 

“Correct, Jeeves. Those were his exact words. And though we 
scouted the idea at the time, it seems to me now that he displayed 
a considerable amount of rugged good sense. These practical, 
self-made men have a way of going straight to the point and 
avoiding side issues. Constable Oates is on sentry go beneath my 
window. I still have the knotted sheets and they can readily be 
attached to the leg of the bed or something. So if you would just 
borrow a shovel somewhere and step down ” 

“I fear, sir ” 

“Come on, Jeeves. This is no time for nolle prosequis. I know 
you like finesse, but you must see that it won’t help us now. 
The moment has arrived when only shovels can serve. You could 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


205 


go and engage him in conversation^ keeping the instrument 
concealed behind your back^ and waiting for the psychological — 

“Excuse me, sir. I think I hear somebody coining.” 

“Well, ponder over what I have said. Who is coming ?” 

“It is Sir Watkyn and Mrs. Travers, sir. I fancy they are about 
to call upon you.” 

“I thought I shouldn’t get this room to myself for long. Still, 
let them come. We Woosters keep open house.” 

When the door was unlocked a few moments later, however, 
only the relative entered. She made for the old famili ar arm-chair, 
and dumped herself heavily in it. Her demeanour was sombre, 
encouraging no hope that she had come to announce that Pop 
Bassett, wiser counsels having prevailed, had decided to set me 
free. And yet I’m dashed if that wasn’t precisely what she had 
come to announce. 

“Well, Bertie,” she said, having brooded in silence for a space, 
“you can get on with your packing.” 

“Eh?” 

“He’s caUed it off.” 

“Called it off?” 

“Yes. He isn’t going to press the charge.” 

“You mean I’m not headed for chokey ?” 

“No.” 

“I’m as free as the air, as the expression is ?” 

“Yes.” 

I was so busy rejoicing in spirit that it was some moments 
before I had leisure to observe that the buck-and-wing dance 
which I was performing was not being abetted by the old flesh 
and blood. She was stiU carrying on with her sombre sitting, and 
I looked at her with a touch of reproach.” 

“You don’t seem very pleased.” 

“Oh, I’m delighted.” 

“I fail to detect the symptoms,” I said, rather coldly. “I 
should have thought that a nephew’s reprieve at the foot of the 
scaffold, as you might say, would have produced a bit of leaping 
and springing about.” 

A deep sigh escaped her. 

“Well, the trouble is, Bertie, there is a catch in it. The old 
buzzard has made a condition.” 

“What is that?” 

“He wants Anatole.” 



206 


THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


I Stared at her. 

“Wants Aoatole ?” 

“Yes. That is the price of your freedom. He says he will agree 
not to press the charge if I let him have Anatole. The darned old 
blackmailer!” 

A spasm of anguish twisted her features. It was not so very 
long since she had been speaking in high terms of blackmail 
and giving it her hearty approval, but if you want to derive real 
satisfaction from blackmail, you have to be at the right end of it. 
Catching it coming, as it were, instead of going, this woman was 
sufferii^. 

I wasn’t feeling any too good myself. From time to time in 
the course of this narrative I have had occasion to indicate my 
sentiments regarding Anatole, that peerless artist, and you will 
remember that the relative’s account of how Sir Watkyn Bassett 
had basely tried to snitch him from her employment during his 
visit to Brinkley Court had shocked me to my foundations. 

It is difiScult, of course, to convey to those who have not tasted 
this wizard’s products the extraordinary importance which his 
roasts and boileds assume in the scheme of things to those who 
have. I can only say that once having bitten into one of his 
dishes you are left with the feeling that life wUl be deprived of 
all its poetry and meaning unless you are in a position to go on 
dig^g in. The thought that Aunt Dahlia was prepared to 
sacrifice this wonder man merely to save a nephew from the 
cooler was one that struck home and stirred. 

I don’t know when I have been so profoundly moved. It was 
with a melting eye that I gazed at her. She reminded me of 
Sidney Carton. 

“You were actually contemplating giving up Anatole for my 
sake ?” I gasped. 

“Of course.” 

“Of course jolly well not! I wouldn’t hear of such a thing.” 

“But you can’t go to prison.” 

“I certainly can, if my going means that that supreme maestro 
will continue working at the old stand. Don’t dream of meeting 
old Bassett’s demands.” 

“Bertie! Do you mean this ?” 

“I should say so. What’s a mere thirty days in the second 
division ? A bagatelle. I can do it on my head. Let Bassett do his 
worst. And,” I added in a softer voice, “when my time is up and 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


207 


I come out into the world once more a free man, let Anatole do 
his best. A month of bread and water or skilly or whatever they 
feed you on in these establishments will give me a rare appetite. 
On the night when I emerge, I shall expect a diimer that wkl live 
in legend and song.” 

“You shall have it.” 

“We might be sketching out the details now.” 

“No time like the present. Start with caviare ? Or cantaloup ?” 

“And cantaloup. Followed by a strengthening soup.” 

“Thick or clear ?” 

“Qear.” 

“You aren’t forgetting Anatole’s Veloute aux fleuxs de cour- 
gette ?” 

“Not for a moment. But how about his Consomme aux Pomms 
d' Amour ?” 

“Perhaps you’re right.” 

“I think I am. I feel I am.” 

“I’d better leave the ordering to you.” 

“It might be wisest.” 

I took pendl and paper, and some ten minutes later I was in a 
position to announce the result. 

“This, then,” I said, “subject to such additions as I may think 
out in my cell, is the menu as I see it.” 

And I read as follows: 

Le Diner 

Caviar Frais 
Cantaloup 

Consomme aux Pommes d’ Amour 
Sylphides a la creme d’Ecrevisses 
Alignonette de poxilet petit Due 
Points d’asperges a la Mistinguette 
Supreme de fois gras au champagne 
Neige aux Perles des Alpes 
Timbale de ris de veau Toulousaine 
Salade d’endive et de celeri 
LeJ?lum Pudding 
L’Etoile au Berger 
Benedictins Blancs 
Bombe Nero 



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Friandises 

Diablotins 

Fruits 

“That about covers it, Aunt Dahlia ?” 

“Yes, you don’t seem to have missed out much.” 

“Then let’s have the man in and defy him. Bassett!” I cried. 

“Bassett!” shouted Aunt Dahlia. 

“Bassett!” I bawled, making the welkin ring. 

It was still rin^g when he popped in, looking annoyed. 

“What the devil are you shouting at me like that for ?” 

“Oh, there you are, Bassett.” I wasted no time in getting down 
to the agenda. “Bassett, we defy you.” 

The man was plainly taken aback. He threw a questioning look 
at Aunt Dahlia. He seemed to be feeling that Bertram was speak- 
ing in riddles. 

“He is alluding,” explained the relative, “to that idiotic offer 
of yours to call the thing off if I let you have Anatole. Silliest idea 
I ever heard. We’ve been having a good laugh about it. Haven’t 
we, Bertie ?” 

“Roaring our heads off,” I assented. 

He seemed stunned. 

“Do you mean that you refuse ?” 

“Of course we refuse. I might have known my nephew better 
than to suppose for an instant that he would consider bringing 
sorrow and bereavement to an atmt’s home in order to save 
himself unpleasantness. The Woosters are not like that, are they, 
Bertie?” 

“I should say not.” 

“They don’t put self first.” 

“You bet they don’t.” 

“I ought never to have insulted him by mentioning the offer 
to him. I apologize, Bertie.” 

“Quite all right, old flesh and blood.” 

She wrung my hand. 

“Good night, Bertie, and good-bye — or, rather au revoir. We 
shall meet again.” 

“Absolutely. When the fields are white with daisies, if not 
sooner.” 

“By the way, didn’t you forget Nonais de la Mediterranee au 
FenouilT* 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 209 

“So I did. And Selle d’Agneau aux laitues & la Grecque. Shove 
them on the charge sheet, will you ?” 

Her departure, which was accompanied by a melting glance 
of admiration and esteem over her shoulder as she navigated 
across the threshold, was followed by a brief and, on my part, 
haughty silence. After a while. Pop Bassett spoke in a strained and 
nasty voice. 

“Well, Mr. Wooster, it seems that after all you will have to 
pay the penalty of your folly.” 

“Quite.” 

“I may say that I have changed my mind about allowing you 
to spend the night under my roof. You will go to the police 
station.” 

“Vindictive, Bassett.” 

“Not at aU. I see no reason why Constable Oates should be 
deprived of his well-earned sleep merely to suit your convenience. 
I \^1 send for him.” He opened the door. “Here, you !” 

It was a most improper way of addressing Jeeves, but the faith- 
ful fellow did not appear to resent it. 

“Sir?” 

“On the lawn outside the house you will find Constable Oates. 
Bring him here.” 

“Very good, sir. I think Mr. Spode wishes to speak to you, 
sir.” 

“Eh?” 

“Mr. Spode, sir. He is coming along the passage now.” 

Old Bassett came back into die room, seeming displeased. 

“I wish Roderick would not interrupt me at a time like this,” 
he said querulously. “I cannot imagine what reason he can have 
for wanting to see me.” 

I laughed lightly. The irony of the thing amused me. 

“He is conaing — a bit late — ^to teU you that he w?as with me 
when the cow-creamer was pinched, thus clearing me of the 
guilt.” 

“I see. Yes, as you say, he is somewhat late. I shall have to 
explain to him . . . Ah, Roderick.” 

The massive frame of R. Spode had appeared in the doorway. 

“Come in, Roderick, come in. But you need not have troubled, 
my dear fellow. Mr. Wooster has made it quire evident that he 
had nothing to do with the theft of my cow-creamer. It was that 
that you wished to see me about, was it not ?” 



210 


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“Well — er — ^no” said Roderick Spode. 

There was an odd, strained look on the man’s face. His eyes 
were glassy and, as far as a thing of that size was capable of being 
fingered, he was fibagering his moustache. He seemed to be bracing 
him self for some unpleasant task. 

“Well — er — ^no,” he said. “The fact is, I hear there’s been 
some trouble about that helmet I stole from Constable Oates.” 

There was a stunned silence. Old Bassett goggled. I goggled. 
Roderick Spode continued to finger his moustache. 

“It was a silly thing to do,” he said. “I see that now. I — er — 
3fielded to an uncontrollable impulse. One does sometimes, 
doesn’t one ? You remember I told you I once stole a policeman’s 
helmet at Oxford. I was hoping I could keep quiet about it, but 
Wooster’s man tells me that you have got the idea that Wooster 
did it, so of course I had to come and tell you. That’s all. I thintr 
I’ll go to bed,” said Roderick Spode. “Good night.” 

He edged off, and the stunned silence started functioning again. 

I suppose there have been men who looked bigger asses thari 
Sir Wa^n Bassett at this moment, but I have never seen one 
myself. The tip of his nose had gone bright scarlet, and Ms 
pince-nez were hanging limply to the parent nose at an angle of 
forty-five. Consistently though he had snootered me from the 
very inception of our relations, I felt almost sorry for the poor 
old blighter. 

“H’rrmph!” he said at length. 

He struggled with the vocal cords for a space. They seemed 
to have gone twisted on him. 

“It appears that I owe you an apology, Mr. Wooster.” 

“Say no more about it, Bassett.” 

“I am sorry that all tMs has occurred.” 

“Don’t mention it. My innocence is established. That is all 
that matters. I presume that I am now at liberty to depart ?” 

“Oh, certainly, certainly. Good night, Mr. Wooster.” 

“Good night, Bassett. I need scarcely say, I tiiink, that I hope 
tMs will be a lesson to you.” 

I dismissed him vwth a distant nod, and stood there wrapped 
in thought. I could make nothing of what had occurred. Following 
the old and tried Oates method of searching for the motive, I had 
to confess myself baffled. I could only suppose that tMs was the 
Sidney Carton spirit bobbing up again. 

And then a sudden blinding light seemed to flash upon me. 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


211 


“Jeeves!” 

“Sir?” 

“Were you behind this thing ?” 

“Sir?” 

“Don’t keep saying ‘Sir ?’. You know what Fm talking about. 
Was it you who egged Spode on to take the rap ?” 

I wouldn’t say he srmled — ^he practically never does — but a 
muscle abaft the mouth did seem to quiver slightly for an instant. 

“I did venture to suggest to Mr. Spode that it would be a 
graceful act on his part to assume the blame, sir. My line of 
argument was that he would be saving you a great deal of un- 
pleasantness, while running no risk himself. I pointed out to 
him that Sir Watkyn, being engaged to marry lus aunt, would 
hardly be likely to inflict upon him the sentence which he had 
contemplated iniSicting upon you. One does not send gentlemen 
to prison if one is betrothed to their aunts.” 

“Profoundly true, Jeeves. But I stiU don’t get it. Do you mean 
he just right-hoed ? Without a murmur ?” 

“Not precisely without a murmur, sir. At first, I must confess, 
he betrayed a certain reluctance. I think I may have influenced 
his decision by informing him that I knew all about ” 

I uttered a cry. 

“Eulahe?” 

“Yes, sir.” 

A passionate desire to get to the bottom of this Eulalie thing 
swept over me. 

“Jeeves, teU me. What did Spode actually do to the girl? 
Murder her ?” 

“I fear I am not at liberty to say, sir.” 

“Come on, Jeeves.” 

“I fear not, sir.” 

I gave it up. 

“Oh, well!” 

I started shedding the garments, I climbed into the pyjamas. 
I slid into bed. The sheets being inextricably knotted, it would 
be necessary, I saw, to nestle between the blankets, but I was 
prepared to rough it for one night. 

The rapid surge of events had left me pensive. I sat with my 
arms round my knees, meditating on Fortune’s swift changes, 

“An odd thing, life, Jeeves.” 

“Very odd, sir.” 



212 


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“You never know where you are with it, do you ? To a 
simple instance, I little thought half an hour ago that I would be 
sitting here in carefree pyjamas, watching you pack for the 
getaway. A very different future seemed to confront me.” 

“Yes, sir.” 

“One would have said that the curse had come upon me.” 

“One would, indeed, sir.” 

“But now my troubles, as you might say, have vanished like 
the dew on the what-is-it. Thanks to you.” 

“I am delighted to have been able to be of service, sir.” 

“You have delivered the goods as seldom before. And yet, 
Jeeves, there is always a snag.” 

“Sir?” 

“I wish you wouldn’t keep sa5ring‘Sir ?’. What I mean is, Jeeves, 
loving hearts have been sundered in this vicinity and are still 
sundered. I may be all right — I am — but Gussie isn’t all right. 
Nor is Stiffy aU right. That is the fly in the ointment.” 

“Yes, sir.” 

“Though, pursuant on that, I never could see why flies 
shouldn’t be in ointment. What harm do they do ?” 

“I wonder, sir ” 

“Yes, Jeeves ?” 

“I was merely about to inquire if it is your intention to bring 
an action against Sir Watkyn for wrongful arrest and defamation 
of charaaer before witnesses.” 

“I hadn’t thought of that. You think an action would lie ?” 

“There can be no question about it, sir. Both Airs. Travers 
and I could offer overwhelming testimony. You are undoubtedly 
in a position to mulct Sir Watkyn in heavy damages.” 

“Yes, I suppose you’re right. No doubt that was why he went 
up m the air to such an extent when Spode did his aa.” 

“Yes, sir. His trained legal mind would have envisaged the 
peril.” 

“I don’t think I ever saw a man go so red in the nose. Did 
you?” 

“No, sir.” 

“StiU, it seems a shame to harry him further. I don’t know that 
I want actually to grind the old bird into the dust.” 

“I was merely thinking, sir, that were you to threaten such an 
action. Sir Watkyn, in order to avoid unpleasantness, might see 
his way to ratifying the betrothals of Aliss Bassett and Mr. Fink- 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


213 


Nottie and Miss Byng and the Reverend Mr. Pinker.” 

“Golly, Jeeves! Put the bite on him, what?” 

“Precisely, sir.” 

“The thing shall be put in train immediately.” 

I sprang from the bed and nipped to the door. 

“Bassett!” I yelled. 

There was no immediate response. The man had presumably 
gone to earth. But after I had persevered for some minutes, 
shouting “Bassett!” at regular intervals with increasing volume, 
I heard the distant sound of pattering feet, and along he came, 
in a very different spirit from that which he had e^bited on 
the previous occasion. This time it was more like some eager 
waiter answering the bell. 

“Yes, Mr. Wooster?” 

I led the way back into the room, and hopped into bed again. 

“There is something you wish to say to me, Mr. Wooster?” 

“There are about a dozen things I wish to say to you, Bassett, 
but the one we wdll touch on at the moment is this. Are you 
aware that your headstrong conduct in sticking police officers on 
to pinch me and locking me in my room has laid you open to an 
action for — ^what was it, Jeeves ?” 

“Wrongfid arrest and defamation of character before vntnesses, 

SIX* 

‘"That’s the baby. I could soak you for millions. What are you 
going to do about it ?” 

He writhed like an electric fan. 

‘T’ll tell you what you are going to do about it^” I proceeded. 
“You are going to issue your O.K. on the union of your daughter 
Madeline and Augustus Fink-Nottle and also on that of your 
niece Stephanie and the Rev. H. P. Pinker. And you will do it 
now.” 

A short struggle seemed to take place in him. It might have 
lasted longer, if he hadn’t caught my eye. 

“Very well, Mr. Wooster.’^ 

“And touching that cow-creamer. It is highly probable that 
the international gang that got away with it will sell it to my Uncle 
Tom. Their system of underground information will have told 
them that he is in the market. Not a yip out of you, Bassett, if 
at some future date you see that cow-creamer in his collection.” 

“Very well, Mr. Wooster.” 

“And one other thing. You owe me a fiver.” 



214 


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“I beg your pardon?” 

“In repayment of the one you took off me at Bosher Street. 
I shall want that before I leave.” 

“I will write you a cheque in the morning.” 

“I shall expect it on the breakfast tray. Good night, Bassett.” 

“Good night, Mr. Wooster. Is that brandy I see over there ? 
I think I should like a glass, if I may.” 

“Jeeves, a snootful for Sir Watijyn Bassett.” 

“Very good, sir.” 

He chained the beaker gratefully, and tottered out. Probably 
quite a nice chap, if you knew him. 

Jeeves broke the silence. 

“I have finished the packing, sir.” 

“Good. Then I think I’ll curl up. Open the window, will you ?” 

“Very good, sir.” 

“What sort of a night is it ?” 

“Unsetded, sir. It has begun to rain with some violence.” 

The sound of a sneeze came to my ears. 

“Hullo, who’s that, Jeeves ? Somebody out there ?” 

“Constable Oates, sh.” 

“You don’t mean he hasn’t gone off duty ?” 

“No, sir. I imagine that in his preoccupation with other matters 
it escaped Sh Watksm’s mind to send word to him that there was 
no longer any necessity to keep his vigil.” 

I sighed contentedly. It needed but this to complete my day. 
The bought of Constable Oates prowling in the rain like the 
troops of Midian, when he could have been snug in bed toasting 
his pink toes on the hot-water botde, gave me a curiously mellow- 
ing sense of happiness. 

“This is the end of a perfect day, Jeeves. What’s that thing of 
yours about larks ?” 

“Sh?” 

“And, I rather think, snails.” 

“Oh, yes, sh. ‘The year’s at the Spring, the day’s at the mom, 
morning’s at seven, the hill-side’s dew-pearled ’ ” 

“But the larks, Jeeves ? The snails ? I’m pretty sure larks and 
snails entered into it.” 

“I am coming to the larks and snails, sh. ‘The lark’s on the 
wing, the snail’s on the thorn ” 

“Now you’re talking. And the tab line ?” 

“ ‘God’s in His heaven, all’s tight with the world.’ ” 



THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS 


215 


“That’s it in a nutshell. I couldn’t have put it better myself. 
And yetj Jeeves, there is just one thing, I do wish you would 
give me the inside facts about Eulalie.” 

“I fear, sir 

“I would keep it dark. You know me — ^the silent tomb.” 

“The rules of the Junior Gan3unede are extremely strict, sir.” 

“I know. But you might stretch a point.” 

“I am sorry, sir 

I made the great decision. 

“Jeeves,” I said, “give me the low-doviTi, and I’ll come on that 
World Cruise of yours.” 

He wavered. 

“Well, in the strictest confidence, sir ” 

“Of course.” 

“Mr. Spode designs ladies’ underclothing, sir. He has a con- 
siderable talent in that direction, and has indulged it secretly for 
some years. He is the founder and proprietor of the emporium 
in Bond Street known as Eulalie Soeurs.” 

“You don’t mean that ?” 

“Yes, sir.” 

“Good Lord, Jeeves! No wonder he didn’t want a thing like 
that to come out.” 

“No, sir. It would unquestionably jeopardize his authority over 
his followers.” 

“You can’t be a successful Dictator and design women’s 
imderdothing.” 

“No, sir.” 

“One or the other. Not both.” 

“Precisely, sir.” 

I mused. 

“Well, it was worth it, Jeeves. I couldn’t have slept, wondering 
about it. Perhaps that cruise won’t be so very foul, after all ?” 

“Most gentlemen find them enjoyable, sir.” 

“Do they?” 

“Yes, sir. Seeing new faces.” 

“That’s true, I hadn’t thought of that. The faces wiE be new, 
won’t they ? Thousands and thousands of people, but no Stiffy,” 

“Exactly, sir.” 

“You had better get the tickets to-morrow.” 

“I have already procured them, sir. Good night, sir,” 

The door dosed. I switched off the Ught. For some moments 



216 


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I lay there listening to the measured tramp of Constable Oates’s 
feet and thinking, of Gussie and Madeline Bassett and of Stiffy 
and old Stinker Pinker^ and of the hotsy-totsiness which now 
prevailed in their love-hves. I also thought of Uncle Tom being 
handed the cow-creamer and of Aunt Dahlia seizing the psycho- 
logical moment and nicking him for a fat cheque for Mtlady^s 
Boudoir. Jeeves was rights I felt. The snail was on the wing and 
the lark on the thorn — or, rather, the other way round — and God 
was in His heaven and all right with the world. 

And presently the eyes closed, the muscles relaxed, the breath- 
ing became soft and regular, and sleep which does something 
which has slipped my mind to the something sleave of care 
poured over me in a healing wave.